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Washington CASA Association is a network of 15 local programs in Washington state serving 15 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.

 

National Foster Care Month #NOW4CHILDREN

With COVID-19, the foster care system is facing challenges including, visitation—with parents, siblings, social workers, CASA/GAL volunteers and others, reunification struggles due to social distancing, permanency delays because of closed courts, children falling behind in school without access to technology and educational resources, fewer foster families because of economic uncertainties and emotional stress, anxiety and unemployment—which together creates a fragile, unstable system.  Is there hope for the foster care system, especially during this season of isolation? Absolutely. Here’s why:

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This article describes how a university and public child welfare agency partnership and a federal demonstration project trained MSW and PhD social welfare students in homelessness intervention research using a continuous quality improvement approach. Over a period of 5 years, the Cal-Child Welfare Leadership Training model between University of California, Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare and San Francisco’s Human Services Agency sought to train graduate students how to find, generate, and use evidence for child welfare decision making. Simultaneously and independently, the partnership designed and implemented a 5-year randomized controlled trial testing the effectiveness of permanent supportive housing for homeless families entering the child welfare system, called Families Moving Forward. We took advantage of the congruity of these two efforts by bringing student interns directly into the ongoing implementation and evaluation of Families Moving Forward, exposing them to implementation challenges that contextualize and moderate expectations about how a complex program for complex families should lead to improved outcomes. The aim was to endow students with the knowledge, skills, and discipline necessary to help make complex interventions work by fostering cross-system collaboration. We propose ways this teaching model can be scaled and installed elsewhere.

Introduction

Until recently, limited research has been available on home visiting staff or on the professional development system that supports them. In 2016, the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation in the Administration for Children and Families, in collaboration with the Health Resources and Services Administration, contracted with the Urban Institute to study the home visiting workforce in MIECHV Program-funded local implementing agencies (LIAs) to gather needed information about home visitors’ backgrounds and career paths. This snapshot highlights findings on home visitors’ qualifications, job experiences, and career pathways.

Primary Research Question

What is the range of education and employment histories among home visitors in MIECHV Program-funded agencies?
What are average job earnings of home visitors in MIECHV Program-funded agencies?
How likely are home visitors to remain in their job for the next two years?

Purpose

A stable and well-trained workforce is critical for effective home visiting program implementation. To support MIECHV awardees, local programs, and home visiting model developers to recruit, train, and retain qualified staff, more information is needed on the career pathways and work experiences of home visitors and their supervisors.

This snapshot presents findings from a national descriptive study of the home visiting workforce in local agencies receiving MIECHV Program funding.

Key Findings and Highlights

Analyses of survey and case study data point to the following key findings:

Home visitors in MIECHV Program-funded agencies have strong educational backgrounds and extensive job-related experience.

Surveyed home visitors’ median salaries are approximately $36,000 annually. Supervisors earn slightly more (a median of $48,000). 

Eighty-four percent of surveyed home visitors say they are very or somewhat likely to remain in their current position for the next two years.

Methods

The project includes two major components: (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 and (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.

Program managers in all MIECHV Program-funded agencies were invited to participate in a 20-minute web-based survey that collected information on staffing, funding sources, staff recruitment and turnover, and program management. Program managers submitted email addresses for home visitors and home visiting supervisors in their programs, which comprised the sample for the second stage of the survey. These staff were invited to participate in a 23-minute web-based survey that collected information on educational attainment, work experience, compensation and benefits, job schedule, work environment, supervision, job satisfaction, training needs, and demographic characteristics.

Glossary

Early childhood home visiting: a service delivery strategy for achieving greater child and family health and well-being. Local home visiting programs connect new and expecting parents with a designated support person—a trained nurse, social worker, parent educator, or early childhood specialist—who provides services in the home. Services generally consist of screening, case management, family support or counseling, and caregiver skills training.

Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program: administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration in partnership with the Administration for Children and Families, the MIECHV Program was established in 2010 to support voluntary, evidence-based home visiting for at-risk pregnant women and parents with children up to kindergarten entry. The program provides grants to states, US territories, and tribes, which conduct needs assessments to identify eligible at-risk communities and serve priority populations.

Learn about National Foster Care Month and ways to strengthen and support families.  

Acting Commissioner Lekan discusses how we’re serving families during COVID-19 in this month's Commissioner's Voice blog

The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic threatens the health and well-being of families across the nation and is particularly consequential for the nation’s 77 million children ages 18 and under. Using data from the Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey collected in late March and early April 2020, we assess how the pandemic is affecting family employment and caregiving, financial decisions, and material hardship among parents living with children under age 19. We find the following:

More than 4 in 10 parents reported that they or someone in their family lost work or work-related income because of the coronavirus outbreak. This proportion rises to about 5 in 10 for non-Hispanic black parents and low-income parents and to more than 6 in 10 for Hispanic parents.
Low-income parents were less likely to be able to work from home and more likely to have had difficulty arranging child care than higher-income parents. The same holds true for Hispanic parents, who were less likely to be able to work from home and more likely to have had difficulty arranging child care than non-Hispanic white parents.
Parents reported coping with the pandemic’s economic impacts by cutting back spending on food, reducing savings, and going into debt.
More than one-third of parents reported problems paying for housing, utility, food, or medical costs in the past month, including roughly half of low-income parents and black and Hispanic parents.

Cyberattacks are on the rise. Cybercriminals take advantage of human emotions and our basic instinct to trust.

In this Kids’ Share brief, we examine how the Trump administration’s proposed 2021 budget would affect spending on children. Children’s programs subject to annual funding decisions, including education and early care and education, would be sharply reduced. Mandatory programs and tax credits for children for the most part would be largely protected, following a pattern seen throughout the budget.

In this Kids’ Share brief, we examine how the Trump administration’s proposed 2021 budget would affect spending on children. Children’s programs subject to annual funding decisions, including education and early care and education, would be sharply reduced. Mandatory programs and tax credits for children for the most part would be largely protected, following a pattern seen throughout the budget.

During National Foster Care Month, we focus on ways in which the child welfare system can strengthen families, improve well-being, and increase the likelihood of successful reunification

Staff, teachers, and students experienced rapid change as school buildings closed in March 2020 because of the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. In this brief, we use American Community Survey (ACS) data to highlight different types of challenges to remote learning and point to district and educator strategies that might mitigate harm to students as districts navigate long-term school closures. Although many families will face unique circumstances and obstacles, we focus on six factors in addition to poverty: linguistic isolation, child disability status, parents in vulnerable economic sectors, single parents, crowded conditions, and lack of computer or broadband access. We describe the difficulties each circumstance presents and potential solutions for school districts.

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