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 guarian ad litem (GAL) volunteers. Those advocates are volunteers, just like you, who stand up and speak out to help children experiencing abuse and neglect.
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.
In Washington state, Black and Native American children are placed into child welfare at far higher rates than white children. We know Black children are 2.2 times and Native American children are 2.9 times more likely to be placed into foster care than white children. Systemic and structural racism is inherent in many of our institutions and the child welfare system is one system of many that perpetuates structural racism and causes disparities. The decision-making processes of agencies, biases of workers and volunteers, governmental policies, and economic injustice have all contributed to racial over representation. We recognize that people do not seek out a career in child welfare with the intent to cause harm, and that it can be challenging to acknowledge that despite good intentions, our child welfare system often does more harm than good. And yet if our intent is to serve and protect children, then we must examine the harm that system causes and change it.
We also recognize that viewing these disproportionalities as statistics, in the abstract, can dehumanize people and flatten the experience of Black America to an undifferentiated narrative of poverty, crime, and dysfunction. This stereotyping denies people of their dignity and reduces them to stereotypes, as happened with George Floyd, when the police saw him as a threat rather than a human needing to breathe. When the daily insult of denial of self builds up enough, it can result in retreat or it can spill out in protest. As Bayard Rustin observed, “when an individual is protesting society's refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him.”
We at Washington CASA do not and cannot work in stereotypes – we recognize that each person has a unique and valuable experience. In the work our programs do on behalf of children and families, they recognize that each child has a voice. The CASA volunteers have a critical role in making sure that those voices get heard. In this moment of honoring the life of George Floyd and others who have experienced similar fates, we pay particular attention to Black voices, but we also acknowledge other voices disproportionately represented in the child welfare system – Native American, LGBTQ, and those experiencing poverty. We work on behalf of them, and all children who have experienced abuse and neglect so that families can receive the help they need and children can have a safe and permanent home.
Washington CASA Association is committed to disrupting the systemic and structural racism in the child welfare systems. As a new nonprofit state association, we will do everything in our collective power to right historic and present-day injustices so that we build an anti-racist future where children thrive and race does not predict their life outcomes. We will work with our local CASA/GAL programs towards justice and equity in these systems, ensuring that our policies are informed by those disproportionately impacted by them. Equity means carrying out our work so we center race in the fight for child welfare justice.
We have much have serious work to do and we are committed to becoming anti-racist in our daily work, training, and policy advocacy. We will continue to learn and deepen this commitment as we live our values and mobilize our network to challenge systemic racism in the child welfare system and advocate for policies that are informed by the people most impacted by them, and that prevent disproportionate entries into the system altogether.
Court Appointed Special Advocate® (CASA) and guardian ad litem (GAL) volunteers advocate on behalf of children who have experienced abuse or neglect. Their best-interest advocacy helps ensure that children are safe, have a permanent home and have the opportunity to thrive.
Fundraisers, events and pre-service training help us raise awareness and generate crucial resources in support of children experiencing abuse and neglect. Join us at our next event and see how you can get involved.
Our volunteers make a life-changing difference for children. Find out how to become a CASA/GAL volunteer.
Since late 2017, the Urban Institute’s Housing Opportunities and Services Together team has partnered with public housing authority BangorHousing and the Boys & Girls Club of Bangor, Maine, in a formative evaluation of Families Forward, a locally designed and funded two-generation program that builds on
BangorHousing’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program.
Our initial findings show that families enrolled in Families Forward experience economic gains, such as an increase in annual income, and social-emotional growth, like greater investment in their community and development of parenting skills. The program provides crucial social supports for families to connect with one another and access services and trainings that can help them achieve greater economic mobility. However, even with additional financial coaching and skill development classes, families encountered systemic barriers when trying to reach their goals, such as buying a home, pursuing secondary education or training, or developing stronger support networks.
Moving forward, it will be important that the Families Forward program strengthen collaboration among partners, seek out more opportunities to support families, and continue to build on the strong culture of trust that it has created.
The uncertainties and changes associated with military life can adversely impact families with young children. Home visitors can help military families manage stressors and engage in positive and responsive interactions with children, thus supporting development and reducing child maltreatment.
This Data in Action Brief uses data from the US Census Bureau, supplemented by a literature review of military families, to address the following questions:
Why focus on military families?
How many military families might benefit from home visiting services?
How do military families differ from other families with young children?
Read the full brief to learn considerations for home visiting programs looking to recruit military families and tailor services to better meet their needs.
This brief was developed for the National Home Visiting Resource Center and is available on its website. The NHVRC is led by James Bell Associates in partnership with the Urban Institute. Support is provided by the Heising-Simons Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
As states and territories make decisions about child care policies, they may find it useful to collect data from child care providers. Survey data can be helpful for answering questions about providers’ characteristics and experiences. Yet surveys can be difficult to design. This brief discusses best practices for developing and testing surveys.
A one-page tip sheet lists suggestions for writing strong survey questions.
Primary Research Questions
What are the pros and cons of different survey modes?
What are some tips for writing good survey questions?
Why should you test a survey? What are some ways to test that it works well?
This brief describes best practices for developing and testing surveys of child care providers.
Key Findings and Highlights
Before developing a survey, identify your study goals and research questions so you can decide whether a survey is the best method for collecting data.
Review existing data to help you decide whether you need to collect new data on all topics you are interested in.
Identify your target population—the group you want to collect data on—and their characteristics. Child care providers are diverse in many ways, so you might need more than one questionnaire or different versions. Determine the best way to collect the data (i.e., telephone, web, mail, in-person) based on the providers you want to reach, project resources, and your desired response rate.
Consider testing your survey in different ways before collecting data to make sure the questions are clear and not biased and the survey is an appropriate length.
Follow best practices in writing questions; consider the order of questions, word choice, and response options.
This brief is based on a review of resources on best practices in survey development, expert input, and the authors’ research experience.
Questionnaire: a series of questions for people to answer so you can gather information from them. A questionnaire is sometimes referred to as a survey instrument.
Response rate: The number of people who answered the survey divided by the number of people in the sample. A response rate is usually expressed as a percentage.
Survey: a study that involves collecting data by asking a sample of people to respond to a set of questions.
Survey mode: the method used to carry out the survey, such as paper, telephone, or web. The mode can also refer to whether the survey is self-administered or administered by an interviewer.
ACYF programs can most effectively serve the holistic needs of young people when we partner with public and private schools, local community and faith-based educators, and their parents by putting kids first on their safe return to school.
Earlier this month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Deque Systems, Inc. developed a webinar to help improve accessibility of emergency PDF communications.
Early education programs have emerged as a leading policy for reducing inequalities among young children. In the District of Columbia, 3- and 4-year-old children apply through a common lottery for spots in the District’s public schools. To assess application and outcome patterns, we analyzed preschool applications submitted to the District of Columbia’s centralized admissions lottery, My School DC, and approximated several community characteristics using Public Use Microdata Samples from the American Community Survey.
Our findings show that matched applicants mirror their respective populations of 3- and 4-year-old children in DC, yet wait-listed applicants disproportionately come from socioeconomically advantaged communities and from families in immigrant communities. Though it is encouraging that matched applicants closely resemble the overall population of prekindergarten-age children in DC, this brief suggests that increasing the match and enrollment rates will not ensure all children entering the K–12 school system are prepared. Rather, high-quality, effective, and accessible programs for children from communities marginalized from traditional education systems can help define equity in the prekindergarten lottery.
Since 2014, the District of Columbia has used an annual common application to place new students from prekindergarten for 3-year-olds (PK3) through 12th grade in DC Public Schools (DCPS) and DC public charter schools. Though K–12 students have the right to attend their in-boundary school, this policy does not extend to students in PK3 or PK4 (prekindergarten for 4-year-olds). Instead, prekindergarten students apply through a common lottery for a spot at one of the District’s public school options.
In the first comprehensive description of DC public prekindergarten applicants and application patterns, we demonstrate that PK3 and PK4 lotteries differ substantially, both in families’ application choices and in outcomes. We find that applicants and matched applicants closely resemble their respective populations of 3- and 4-year-old children in DC, but wait-listed applicants disproportionately represent socioeconomically advantaged 3- and 4-year-old children in DC, as well as families in immigrant communities.
Measuring Applicants and Application Patterns:
To assess applicants and application patterns to DC public prekindergarten programs, we analyzed nearly 40,000 preschool applications submitted to the District of Columbia’s centralized admissions lottery, My School DC, between 2014 and 2018. Using Public Use Microdata Samples from the American Community Survey, we approximated several community characteristics of prekindergarten applicants and their families, including racial and ethnic composition, family structure, immigration status, language spoken at home, disability status, employment status, poverty status, and educational attainment.
PK3 and PK4 applicants, as well as those matched to a public prekindergarten option, closely resemble the populations of 3- and 4-year-old children in DC. Relative to the PK4 lottery, the PK3 lottery attracts more applicants and has a substantially higher and more stable match rate over time. Across all grades and years, in-boundary preference (awarded only by DCPS schools) is the most common preference status held by matched applicants.
PK3 match rates are lowest in Ward 3, which does not include any schools offering PK3. PK4 match rates are lowest in Wards 1 and 2. Across both prekindergarten grades, Wards 7 and 8, home to many households with low incomes and communities of color, have the highest match rates.
Findings suggest that wait-listed applicants differ from matched applicants and all 3- and 4-year-old children in important ways. Wait-listed applicants come from communities with higher shares of Hispanic and white families and lower shares of Black families; higher shares of families with two or no parents and lower shares of families with one parent; higher shares of immigrant families and families speaking languages other than English at home; and higher shares of two-parent full-time working families, families with higher incomes, families with four-year college degrees and at least one vehicle, and families not receiving food stamps.
Though DC public prekindergarten is a leading example to other state and local education programs, our findings identify gaps that suggest additional research, outreach, and application support can help ensure more equitable access and outcomes for all young children in the preschool lottery.
Our analysis will form the basis for a broader DC prekindergarten study and be a reference for other preschool programs seeking to use a centralized lottery for equitable prekindergarten access.
This fact sheet highlights selected findings from Kids’ Share 2020. It shows that tax provisions and health programs account for most federal spending on children. The child tax credit was the largest single program and Medicaid was the second-largest program in terms of spending on children in 2019.
The success sequence is a proven formula to help young people thrive and become self-sufficient.
Every Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Lead Agency can use research and evaluation services. Even if your agency has an internal research department, sometimes you may need to procure (i.e., contract out) specialized research or evaluation services. You can be more successful in getting the research and evaluation services you need if you have some understanding of the procurement process in your state.
This guide aims to help CCDF Lead Agencies understand some basics about procurement. It defines key procurement terms and suggests where to look for your state’s procurement requirements. The guide walks you through key steps for procuring research and evaluation services. It also provides a checklist and glossary for easy reference. Resources are linked throughout the document where you can access more information on each topic.
Key Findings and Highlights
Navigating state procurement requirements may be challenging at first. States vary in their specific procurement procedures, and procurement has its own vocabulary.
To procure research and evaluation services, here are some steps you need to take:
determine what you need,
learn the procurement requirements in your state,
write up and advertise what you need, and
review proposals and select who will do the work.
Many steps in the process will require your team to seek help from other state agencies. Give yourself some lead time to figure out all the required steps and approvals.
Derrick-Mills, Teresa, Travis Reginal, and Julia Isaacs (2020). Procuring Research and Evaluation Services: A Guide for CCDF Lead Agencies and Researchers, OPRE Report #2020-89, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, US Department of Health and Human Services.
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