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Washington CASA Association is a network of 12 local programs in Washington state serving 13 counties. Through our valued membership with National CASA/GAL, we belong to a network of 950 community-based programs nationwide, that recruit, screen, train, and support court-appointed special advocate (CASA) and guardian ad litem (GAL) volunteers. Those advocates are volunteers, just like you, who stand up and speak out to help children experiencing abuse and neglect.


So many things have changed. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the difference that a volunteer makes in the life of a child. Give the gift of a CASA Volunteer.

Black Lives Matter- We Stand in Solidarity

The inhumane and senseless murder of Mr. George Floyd and the many others who have gone before him provide a painful reminder of the racial injustices that pervade American life. Staff and volunteers at CASA programs know this too well. The higher rates of incarceration, poverty, and unemployment, and the poorer health outcomes among Blacks manifest themselves in disproportional representation of Black children in the child welfare system. 


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America has built starkly unequal communities, systematically excluding Black people and other people of color from places rich with resources and opportunities, while depriving the communities in which they live from essential investments, services, and supports. Place-conscious initiatives—which put people at the center of strategies to restore disinvested communities—can help tackle these persistent challenges. In this brief, we pose five guiding principles for place-conscious strategies: (1) confront racism, (2) build resident voice and power, (3) work both horizontally and vertically, (4) plan for residential mobility, and (5) commit to accountability and continuous learning. We draw upon experience from The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities initiative to illustrate these principles, demonstrate what place-conscious work looks like in practice, and acknowledge inherent challenges and tensions.

For children, no other insurer has equaled Medicaid’s comprehensive coverage and cost-sharing protections. But Medicaid also has important limitations, and the imperative to achieve racial and socioeconomic health equity demands structural changes to the program.

External Link:

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2030646

Over seven years, local partnerships in Buffalo, New York, Columbus, Ohio, and San Antonio, Texas, embarked on an initiative focused on high-poverty neighborhoods with long histories of economic disinvestment. The Family-Centered Community Change (FCCC) initiative, with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, developed integrated services for communities—including education and care for children and job training and financial and employment services for adults—to help family members succeed together in a two-generation approach.

Strong partnerships are essential in two-generation community change initiatives, but they are not simple to create. Urban Institute researchers tracked the initiatives as the communities designed and implemented them. This report highlights lessons from the partnerships about collaborating, integrating services, and building strong partnerships.

All three community change initiatives exemplify both challenges to and markers of strong partnerships. These partnerships are dynamic and require careful planning and ongoing nurturing. Community change initiatives must treat cultivating the partnerships as critically as they treat the services themselves.

Generally, partnerships are stronger when funding is secure, partners feel invested in the work, leaders communicate a clear vision and direction, and staff understand each other’s contributions and roles. As the seven years showed—as has the time since the COVID-19 pandemic and renewed protests for racial justice began—broader systemic and contextual factors will always be at play and part of the inevitable landscape community partnerships must navigate.

The report discusses takeaways for strong partnerships in two-generation community change initiatives.

Prioritize family and community partners. FCCC, by its very name, aims to be family centered. One way to center families is to include them as partners with shared design authority. None of the FCCC partnerships implemented such a body, even though FCCC community members were intimately aware of conditions that made it difficult to pursue goals that could benefit themselves and their families—such as lack of child care options, inadequate transportation, predatory lending practices, and limited affordable rental housing. Solutions to these challenges were not always front and center in the FCCC programming. Including family members in the initiatives’ designs may have spurred greater focus on tackling structural barriers to community challenges.
Foster a culture conducive to partnerships. Partner integration often involves sharing and relinquishing money, authority, ideas, acclaim, and habits for the larger initiative’s cause. To foster a culture conducive to partnerships, organizations should enter these arrangements ready to acknowledge likely constraints and prepared and willing to compromise and navigate these areas including addressing schedule constraints and duplicate services among different partners.
Invest in a shared vision and empower leaders. Strong service partners share a common vision and goal and adopt the same guiding principles for the initiative. A strong shared vision can be strengthened by initiative leaders who also have high-level authority within their organizations, especially for fostering community and cross-organizational partnerships. Consistent leadership is also vital to establishing a shared vision, though turnover and transitions did happen in FCCC. Shared vision and empowered leadership can strengthen the partnerships and solidify organizational ties even through anticipated turnover and transitions.
Create effective communication mechanisms. Good communication including clear mechanisms for feedback loops between frontline staff and leadership is essential to moving from decision-making on a case-by-case basis to identifying more permanent solutions to common challenges and instituting procedures, policies, or practices that change the overall system of care for all families.
Build data-sharing capacity and infrastructure early. Communities undertaking similar initiatives would benefit from thinking about data tracking and data collection requirements for all partners early on and prioritizing shared data capacity. Someone needs to lead the data sharing and coordinate effective strategies that make sense within the range of services offered and partners’ legacy tracking systems. And partnerships need to guide frontline staff on how to best use data resources to inform their work while ensuring the content and format of the information is accessible and actionable.
Build partnerships that last decades, not only for the life of the grant. Thinking toward sustainability early can help initiatives maintain momentum while recognizing that partnerships may change and evolve over the years. The most considerable sustainability challenge is often securing funding and other resources to continue and build on the work. But it also involves aligning continued work with organizational missions and policy-level priorities. Trust allows organizations to have confidence in partners to stay the course and work through new challenges as they arise to plan together and count on each other to continue the shared work.

If a parent works full time and earns $30,000 per year, can the family receive a subsidy to help pay for child care? If the family does qualify for a subsidy, how much will they have to pay out of pocket? The answers to these questions depend on a family’s exact circumstances, including:

the ages of the children
the number of people in the family
income
where they live

Child care subsidies are provided through a federal block grant program called the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). CCDF provides funding to the States, Territories, and Tribes. They use the money to administer child care subsidy programs for low-income working families.

This brief serves as a companion piece to the report “Key Cross-State Variations in CCDF Policies as of October 1, 2019”, providing a graphical overview of some of the policy differences across States/Territories.  The information in the report comes from the CCDF Policies Database.  Additional reports and the full database detail can be accessed at https://ccdf.urban.org.

The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) provides federal money to States, Territories, and Tribes to subsidize the cost of child care for low-income working families. Detailed policies vary widely across jurisdictions, with States, Territories, and Tribes establishing different policies for:

Eligibility requirements for families and children
Application, waiting list, and redetermination requirements
Family copayment policies
Provider requirements and reimbursement rates

Whether families are eligible for child care assistance and how much assistance they receive depends in large part on the policies set by each jurisdiction. This report describes the ways in which policies vary within the context of the federal program requirements and includes dozens of detailed tables showing each State’s/Territory’s policy choices for October 1, 2019.  The report also includes longitudinal tables showing how selected policies have changed in recent years.

The information in the report is taken from the CCDF Policies Database project, which produces a comprehensive, up-to-date database of CCDF policies for the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. Territories and outlying areas. The database contains hundreds of variables designed to capture CCDF policies across time, allowing users to access policy information for a specific point in time as well as to see how and when policies change over time. The full database can be accessed at https://ccdf.urban.org.

The resource list aims to support Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) administrators and their research partners in using administrative data to address policy-relevant early care and education research questions. It lists resources that explain how to acquire, use, manage, link, and analyze administrative data in early childhood or related fields.

Students of color have faced a myriad of challenges in 2020 stemming from the impacts of COVID-19, racial injustice, and the personal fear that either themselves or a loved one may be targeted because of their race. Improving school climate is a necessary component in any effort to improve racial equity. Race too often predicts outcomes such as disciplinary actions, feelings of student connectedness, and a student’s perceived level of support from adults in their school. Additional interventions, policies, and research to identify effective solutions to close the racial school climate gap between students of color and white students are necessary. This concept paper highlights the need for philanthropic and government investment to better understand the social-emotional needs of students of color.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented, urgent challenges for the child care and early education workforce. Though the workforce has always been fragile, new stressors presented over the past year have highlighted fundamental structural problems in the system, including the inequities facing Black, Latina, and Native American child care and early education staff and providers. Based on interviews with 20 experts about strategies to support the child care workforce, this report presents a set of 19 diverse state and local policy strategies that policymakers, philanthropists, and key stakeholders could implement to address these structural inequities and build a stronger and more equitable workforce in the future.

Introduction

A strong body of evidence shows the positive impacts of home visiting on children and their families, including improvements in maternal and child health, child development, and parenting practices. Early childhood home visiting programs rely on well-trained staff to deliver interventions, but little research is available on the educational background or preservice preparation home visitors typically bring to the job, or their experiences with ongoing professional development.

This short report examines issues related to professional development for home visitors and home visiting supervisors. The findings presented are based on a national study of the home visiting workforce in Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program-funded agencies and interviews with experts in higher education and in the home visiting field. The report also shares information from a scan of online resources related to training and professional development for home visiting program staff.

Primary Research Questions

What opportunities exist for professional development for home visitors and home visiting supervisors?

How do these opportunities vary at different career stages?

What are the perceived gaps in available trainings?

What challenges exist for professional development for home visitors and supervisors at various points in their careers?

Purpose

Early childhood home visiting programs rely on well-trained staff to deliver interventions, but little research is available on the educational background or preservice preparation home visitors typically bring to the job, or their experiences with ongoing professional development.

This short report presents findings from a national descriptive study of the home visiting workforce in local agencies receiving MIECHV funding with a focus on the professional development opportunities and gaps that exist to support the early childhood home visiting workforce.

Key Findings and Highlights

Analyses of data point to the following key findings:

Home visitors and supervisors have varying educational and professional backgrounds, reflecting the range of home visiting models used and the staffing needs of local home visiting programs. This variation highlights a challenge in preparing people for home visiting as a profession.

Observational assessments and core competency frameworks can be useful tools to measure home visitor performance and guide professional development goals.

A widely used certification or endorsement for home visitors could help encourage standardization of the field, but this approach has benefits and drawbacks.

A range of in-service training opportunities is available to home visitors, but cost and time can be constraints.

Home visitors and supervisors identify topics where they need additional training on addressing sensitive situations such as domestic violence and substance use.

Methods

The project includes (1) a two-stage national survey of the home visiting workforce in local implementing agencies (LIAs) receiving funding from the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program; (2) case studies in eight states involving interviews with program leaders and supervisory staff, as well as focus groups with home visitors in 26 LIAs; (3) a literature review on professional development for home visiting and related fields; and (4) a select number of expert interviews on the topic of professional development in the early childhood home visiting field.

Findings for this brief draw primarily on the literature review and expert interviews, but also consider case study findings and results from the surveys.

Implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including expansion of Medicaid eligibility for adults in many states, has significantly reduced the number of uninsured children in the nation. "Welcome mat" effects of Medicaid expansion, whereby children already eligible for Medicaid become insured when parents seek or enroll in Medicaid as well, and improvements in outreach and enrollment processes are largely credited for the decrease. However, reductions in children’s uninsured rates under the ACA have not been equitable for all. Despite declining by nearly half between 2014 and 2018 nationwide, uninsured rates for Latinx children are the highest of all racial and ethnic groups and nearly double the national average.

Maximizing enrollment in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) among those eligible is one way to reduce uninsurance rates for Latinx children. To do that, it is important to consider barriers to enrollment as well as where families with Medicaid/CHIP-eligible uninsured children reside. In this memo, we examine these issues for children ages five to 16 in one state, Texas.

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