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JEDI Workshops

Washington CASA Association is excited to announce the launching of a series of workshops about Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI), how it impacts our work in child welfare and best interest advocacy, and how we can incorporate JEDI into our everyday work.

Overview of JEDI Workshops

These workshops are expected to provide engaging, thoughtful, and interactive opportunities to advance understanding and knowledge about JEDI and to build capacity to address JEDI among the local CASA/GAL programs and other participating organizations, agencies, and stakeholders.

Tiered Workshops-the content builds on the previous sessions

The workshops are scaffolded into multiple sessions meaning the content builds and advances as one progresses through each session. The significant length of time devoted for each Workshop is intentional in order to provide adequate time to deliver the content, and allow participants opportunities to process their learning as a group, and to identify approaches to integrate learning into their own organizations’ internal processes and practices. ZOOM REGISTRATION IS BELOW

Sponsors of the JEDI Workshops

The JEDI Workshops Series is made possible through two generous grants awarded by the Charis Fund Foundation and Sound Credit Union.  Washington CASA Association is grateful for their partnership and commitment to Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the child welfare system and helping us to improve our work.


Meet the Trainers

Sigrid Davison

Sigrid Davison provides strategic leadership and planning to promote and strengthen diversity and inclusiveness at Central Washington University (CWU), building professional success and effectiveness pathways, and cultivating belonging and community to foster affirmative experiences and retention of minoritized employees. Previously at CWU, she worked to improve institutional effectiveness through analytics and research of institutional data and surveys.  Ms Davison has over 25 years examining and tackling inequality and injustice. Prior to arriving at CWU in 2013, she managed the Intergroup Dialogue Program at Syracuse University, which followed the completion the national Multiversity Intergroup Dialogue Research Project (MIRP) administered through the University of Michigan. MIRP is the only national multi-university experimental research project evaluating social justice curriculum on 24 different educational outcomes, Ms Davison was the research coordinator for the Syracuse University site. She has over 12 years’ experience designing and teaching academic credit bearing courses in psychology, sociology and women and gender studies, as well as developing, implementing and evaluating programs and workshops grounded in substantiated research and best practices of social justice education.

Currently, Ms Davison is a doctoral student at Northeastern University in the College of Professional Studies Graduate School of Education’s Organizational Leadership Studies track and is anticipating graduation in 2021. She is ABD in Social Psychology and achieved a MS in Social Psychology at Syracuse University and a BA in Psychology at the University of Washington – Seattle. Additionally, Davison facilitates strategic planning development workshops for the Society for College and University Planning and is an evaluator for the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

 

Verónica Gómez-Vilchis

Verónica Gómez-Vilchis is the Diversity Advocate and Outreach Specialist at Central Washington University.  She provides collaborative leadership to build and execute strategies to attract and acquire talent for the sustainability of the university. She builds partnerships and generates cross campus cooperation with university leadership to implement substantiated approaches that reflect the highest standards of talent acquisition for diversity inclusion and belonging. Ms Gómez-Vilchis has been dedicated to social justice, equity, and diversity at CWU for over 20 years, by designing and implementing educational programs for human resources and student success. She extends her impact by consulting on initiatives and programming for equity, social justice and on workplace harassment prevention locally and internationally.

Currently, Ms Gómez-Vilchis is a graduate student at CWU in the College of Business’ Human Resources Management Professional Certification. Additionally, she holds a Master’s of Arts in Intercultural Communication and a Bachelor’s of Arts in Spanish from Central Washington University. She holds certifications in mediation, leadership development, intergroup dialogue, and workplace investigation.

 

Workshop Series #1

Building Blocks of a Dialogue: Communication for Equity and Inclusion

National CASA/GAL Continuing Education: 6 hours

Court Learning Education: 6 credits in Ethics and Professional Responsibility

Workshop Series #2

Whiteness: What is it, and why it matters.

National CASA/GAL Continuing Education: 8 hours

Court Learning Education: 8 credits in Ethics and Professional Responsibility

Workshop Series #3

Antiracism: Going Beyond Allyship

National CASA/GAL Continuing Education: 8 hours

Court Learning Education: 8 credits in Ethics and Professional Responsibility


Child Welfare in the News

Introduction

For adolescents, becoming a parent presents both challenges and opportunities. Young parents must navigate both the normative developmental tasks of adolescence and adult responsibilities of caring for a child. At the same time, complete their education, and build a better future for themselves and their children.

Access to services and supports is essential for adolescent parents to be successful and their young families to thrive. This is no less true for parenting young people in foster care (hereafter referred to as “in care”). Yet child welfare systems were not designed to provide those young people and their children the services and supports they need.

Focusing on parenting young people in care is important for two reasons. First, they must navigate both the transition to adulthood and parenthood while under the supervision of a system that was not designed to support them in their parenting role. Second, now that more than half of states have extended federally funded foster care to age 21 and other states have established state-funded extended foster care programs, many more parenting young people are in care today than in the past.

This brief describes the development of a learning agenda focused on the needs of parenting young people in care.

Primary Research Questions

We undertook this research to answer three primary questions:

What do we know about the needs of young parents in care?
What are the gaps in our knowledge about those needs?
What questions should we prioritize to address those gaps?

Purpose

Despite a growing literature on young parents in care, many gaps remain in our knowledge about how best to address their needs. Developing a learning agenda is one way to prioritize the gaps that future research and evaluation activities could begin to fill. This brief presents both a learning agenda and conceptual framework focused on the needs of parenting young people in care.

Key Findings and Highlights

We identified six topics around which to focus a learning agenda on the needs of parenting young people in care.

Young fathers in care. Child welfare systems have generally not provided young fathers in care with parenting supports. Supporting young fathers in care will require a better understanding of their experiences and needs.

Specialized training. Most caseworkers and foster parents have not been trained to provide young parents in care with the support they need. Specialized training could help caseworkers and foster parents support parenting young people in care, but additional information is needed about what the content and format of that training should be.

Child care. Child care is essential for young parents in care to work or go to school, but finding high-quality, affordable child care that meets their needs is challenging. Understanding those challenges could help child welfare systems ensure the child care needs of young parents in care are being addressed.

Heightened fear. Young parents in care fear being reported to Child Protective Services (CPS) and having their children removed because of their own experiences and constant surveillance by foster parents and child welfare professionals. Addressing this fear is important because it can prevent parenting young people from accessing the supports they need to care for their children.

Mental health. Young parents in care often lack a natural support system and may be reluctant to seek help for fear of being stigmatized or deemed incapable of caring for their children. Meeting the mental health care service needs of young parents in care will require more information about those needs and the barriers to seeking help.

Equity and inclusion. Services are not available to all parenting young people in care, and they are frequently excluded when decisions that affect their lives are made. Additional attention to equity and inclusion is needed to ensure all parenting young people in care have access to services and can actively participate in shaping their lives and the lives of their children.

Methods

The project team carried out interviews with six program administrators and ten state and county child welfare agency administrators to support the development of a conceptual framework. Once the framework was drafted, we hosted a convening with key stakeholders and young parents with lived experience to revise the framework and develop the learning agenda.

Introduction 

In the United States, most young people experience a gradual transition to adulthood accompanied by frequent changes in housing. Young people typically make this transition with the emotional support, financial assistance, and safety net of family members or other adults. Young adults transitioning out of foster care, however, often experience transiency and frequent changes in housing with little support from family. The transition from foster care can be abrupt for some young adults, as they are expected to shift from being dependents of the state to being independent young adults overnight. Young people aging out of foster care must secure suitable housing with little or no support from their family or the state. Accordingly, many young people aging out of foster care experience homelessness.

A central challenge acknowledged by policymakers is securing viable housing options for young adults that are both developmentally appropriate and responsive to their diverse needs. In recent years, supportive housing programs have become a popular means to support young people formerly in foster care. Although research indicates a universal approach will not be adequate, it remains unclear what specific set of housing options should be made available and whether distinct housing options are better suited for young adults who have been in foster care. This report describes results from a nationwide scan of housing programs for young people formerly in foster care that follow the Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) model. 

Purpose 

The goal of this project was to learn about PSH programs specifically for young people formerly in foster care, which we define as young people who spent any time in foster care, including those who aged out. Through interviews and focus groups, we sought to better understand the range of current programs that generally follow the PSH model, learn more about how they operate, and identify the next steps for readying these programs for potential future evaluation. 

Primary Research Questions:

What design features characterize PSH programs that serve the general population of young people at risk of homelessness?
What challenges does providing PSH to young people formerly in foster care pose?
What successes have providers of PSH to young people formerly in foster care experienced?
How do young people perceive the programs, and do their perceptions match staff perceptions?
What are key program design features that should be sustained or modified? 
For whom is PSH appropriate?
What should PSH programs consider to prepare for an evaluation?

Key Findings and Highlights 

Findings from our national scan suggest that PSH programs vary in design, but all share goals to, at a minimum, safely house young people at risk of homelessness and support their well-being over the medium or long term. Young people and staff tend to agree on the goals and benefits of PSH; however, they also each noted challenges. Our findings indicate that staff in PSH programs struggle to engage young people and form strong relationships with young people. Several programs noted their approaches to engaging young people and formative and process evaluations can help PSH programs learn whether these approaches can improve service delivery. 

Methods 

We identified 25 programs through a national scan of supportive housing programs for young people formerly in foster care. We then conducted 60-minute phone interviews with relevant staff from each program. Nineteen programs were identified as fitting the PSH model, regardless of whether they specifically targeted young people formerly in foster care. Of these, we conducted site visits to eight programs.

Recommendations 

Because PSH programs are costly and intensive, they should continue serving young people who need that level of service. Most programs we spoke with might be better thought of as supportive housing rather than PSH. They are largely designed to serve young people who do not require the intensity of PSH but do need more support than a transitional housing program provides. Establishing a clearer target population for PSH and supportive housing would help the field understand how to best serve young people and begin building evidence about for whom programs may be most effective.

For decades, policy experts, practitioners, and advocates have called attention to the inadequate public funding that supports the child care sector in the US. As a result, many child care providers in underresourced communities struggle to survive without additional support, and access to child care depends heavily on parents’ ability to pay the high costs. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated this crisis, and policymakers are now considering fundamental changes to the child care funding infrastructure. To inform policymakers in reforming the child care sector, we scanned innovative child care policies from abroad to stabilize child care supply. Australia’s Community Child Care Fund (CCCF), which provides operational grants to providers in historically underserved communities offers lessons that US policymakers could employ in the US to stabilize at-risk child care providers. In this brief, we discuss the child care crisis in the US, review the CCCF, and identify lessons and trade-offs for policymakers interested  in implementing a similar policy in the US.

Read the Summary

This brief is part of a larger project exploring how innovative policies and programs from abroad could inform state and local efforts in the US to advance an inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Resources from the full project are available at https://urbn.is/lessons.

Many families with children faced precarious health care access and affordability as the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession took hold in 2020, and numerous families experienced additional economic and health challenges in the ensuing months. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) included temporary changes to the premium subsidy schedule in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplaces aimed at improving the affordability of health insurance coverage. Making these changes permanent could benefit children if they gain coverage or if their parents gain coverage or experience premium or out-of-pocket (OOP) cost savings. In this brief, we use the Urban Institute’s Health Insurance Policy Simulation Model to consider the impacts of extending the enhanced subsidies on all children and their parents and children under age 6 and their parents in 2022.

We find that nearly 1 million uninsured children and parents, including approximately 300,000 uninsured children, would gain insurance coverage if ARPA subsidy enhancements were made permanent. Though only about 67,000 children under age 6 would gain coverage, approximately 267,000 uninsured parents who would gain coverage have a child under age 6, suggesting even more young children could benefit when their parents gain coverage. Nearly two-thirds of the coverage gains for families would be concentrated among children and parents with incomes between 200 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). In addition, approximately 4.5 million children and parents who had nongroup coverage before the ARPA would experience combined household premium and OOP spending reductions of 18 percent per person, on average; those with incomes below 200 percent of FPL would save even more, 25 percent per person.

Nonetheless, we project that about 3.3 million children and 6.3 million parents would remain uninsured in 2022. Most remaining uninsured children would be eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (57.2 percent) or tax credits (13.6 percent). But about 41.2 percent of parents would be ineligible for subsidized coverage because of their immigration status or residence in a state that has not expanded Medicaid under the ACA; this represents approximately 2.6 million parents, including 636,000 uninsured parents who would become eligible for Medicaid if their state were to expand Medicaid under the ACA.

Change a Child’s Story™ national ad awareness campaign serves as a call to action

Change a Child’s Story™ national ad awareness campaign serves as a call to action

The expansion to the child tax credit (CTC) enacted through the American Rescue Plan Act could significantly change the landscape of child poverty. As policymakers and other stakeholders debate the future of the expanded CTC, the voices and perspectives of families with children should be front and center in the public dialogue. To learn more about families receiving the CTC and the early impact of the advance payments on their households, shortly after the first payments went out in July we interviewed 20 parents who had at least one child under age 6 and reported an income below 250 percent of the federal poverty level. Their stories provide early insights into how the CTC is helping families meet basic expenses and providing a buffer against further hardship. Specifically, we find the following:

16 out of the 20 parents reported receiving the credit at the time of the interview.
13 parents prefer receiving monthly payments; 4 prefer receiving single year-end payments.
9 parents anticipate their primary use of the monthly payments will be essential bills, and 8 anticipate primarily using it for emergency funds or savings.

A few parents identified specific uses for the funds, including an expensive emergency room visit or a replacement for a broken air conditioner.  

0 parents felt that receiving the payments would induce them to work fewer or more hours at their jobs.
We observed some issues around nonreceipt, such as that parents

lack a bank account to receive the direct deposits,
assume they are ineligible for the CTC because they hadn’t filed a tax return,
lack clarity on whether foster children are eligible, or
lack of clarity on eligibility more generally.

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.

In this short report, we provide a snapshot of the state of the professional development systems for home visiting in 2018, with an emphasis on professional development for home visitors who provide direct services to families. We describe the perspectives of home visitors and home visiting supervisors working in MIECHV-funded agencies and stakeholders with expertise in professional development as it pertains to the field of home visiting. We also describe the ways in which professional development could be improved to help strengthen the home visiting workforce.

In September 2021, we added an Authors’ Note and slight revisions to this short report to clarify the timing of data collection—which occurred primarily in 2018—and acknowledge that these findings represent a snapshot in time. The field has since evolved, but many considerations discussed in this report remain relevant. We also took the opportunity to provide additional clarity regarding some of the findings and their implications.

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 findings presented in this report are based primarily on qualitative data collected through key informant stakeholder interviews with individuals who have expertise in the early childhood home visiting workforce conducted in late 2017 through early 2019, focus groups with home visitors and interviews with program managers at MIECHV-funded local implementing agencies (LIAs) in eight states conducted in 2018, and a literature scan conducted in 2017 through 2018. Findings from a national survey of the home visiting workforce conducted in September through December 2018 as part of the larger project are also referenced in the report. Findings for this brief draw primarily on the literature review and expert interviews, but also consider case study findings and results from the surveys.

Introduction

Learning how to succeed in the world of work during the transition to adulthood is a universal need, and young people aging out of foster care are no exception. But research consistently finds that compared with other young people those aging out of foster care have less stable employment, work fewer hours, and earn lower wages as they enter adulthood, while often having greater demands to support themselves financially. This report examines two employment programs that focus explicitly on young people transitioning to adulthood from foster care and purposefully address this population’s unique experiences and needs.

Do such programs improve employment and financial prospects for young people aging out of foster care? Unfortunately, the evidence is limited, often because programs are small and may not be designed or implemented in a way conducive to rigorous evaluation. This study examined two such programs through formative evaluation, shedding light on key features of these programs and the young people they serve. The study highlights the important role of formative evaluation in laying the groundwork for successful future rigorous impact evaluation.

Primary Research Questions

The key research questions for the formative evaluations of iFoster Jobs in Los Angeles County, California, and Mentoring Youth to Inspire Meaningful Employment (MY TIME) in Chicago, Illinois, were the following:

How do these programs operate, and do they operate with fidelity to their logic models?
Whom do the programs serve, and do they achieve their program goals? What are some successes and challenges?
Do these programs have the potential for rigorous evaluation in the future?

Purpose

To date, little is known about how employment programs for young people with histories of foster care operate and whether they are effective in promoting positive employment outcomes. A key finding from the Multi-Site Evaluation of Foster Youth Programs is that many programs serving Chafee-eligible young people are not ready for rigorous evaluation because they lack a clearly articulated logic model or are not implemented as intended. This study fills a knowledge gap using formative evaluation to illustrate what is needed for programs to be ready for successful rigorous impact evaluation. The purpose of formative evaluation is to examine whether programs are being implemented as intended, expected outputs are being produced, and short-term outcomes are trending in the right direction; and to provide feedback to programs about program functioning and data-collection needs.

This series of formative evaluation activities explored how the employment programs iFoster Jobs and MY TIME are being implemented, who is served by each program, and whether participants seem to be reaching their employment-related goals. The study also explores how each program’s goals relate to the young people they serve and their programmatic approaches. Comparing the two program’s goals, populations served, and programmatic approaches provides additional insights into the variation in employment programs for young people transitioning out of foster care.

Key Findings and Highlights

The study found that both iFoster Jobs and MY TIME are generally operating in alignment with the logic models developed through the formative evaluation process, although a few inputs and activities need to be more fully realized in practice. In addition, both programs are preparing their participants for employment and helping them connect to work. Forty percent of iFoster Job participants in our sample got a job, and 58 percent of our MY TIME analytic sample got a job at least once during their participation in the program. However, without a comparison group, these findings don’t show to what extent these outcomes differ from what the young people would have achieved without the programs’ services. Additional refinement of data-collection activities, including participant characteristics, program participation, and longer-term employment outcomes, are needed before a rigorous impact evaluation could be conducted to assess the programs’ effectiveness.

Even though both iFoster Jobs and MY TIME serve young people transitioning out of foster care, the programs serve young people in different circumstances and view the goal of employment differently. This translates into each program taking different implementation approaches despite similar training components. iFoster Jobs focuses on facilitated peer groups to practice work scenarios and uses community partners to provide additional supports. iFoster Jobs serves as a gatekeeper that introduces participants they have assessed as ready for competitive work to interviews for existing open positions with corporate employer partners. Often, these jobs serve as launching pads into industries with the potential for growth. MY TIME training focuses on facilitating individual and group reflections and MY TIME staff use every interaction with participants to build a trusting relationship. MY TIME develops mentoring relationships with its participants and uses early-employment experiences, even if they are not pathways to long-term careers, to help participants develop the skills and resilience that will serve them well in future employment. These formative evaluations of iFoster Jobs and MY TIME illustrate not only the key components and successes of employment programs for young people transitioning out of foster care, but they also highlight that different approaches are appropriate for different populations of young people.

Methods

The study began our inquiries with initial telephone calls to program leadership and then researchers visited each program where they conducted semi-structured interviews and focus groups with program staff, participants, and other stakeholders including local child welfare agency leadership and employer partners. Researchers also observed numerous program activities and informal interactions among young people and between program participants and staff.

Researchers also used program data to analyze participant characteristics, program participation, and employment outcomes. In the case of MY TIME, researchers conducted content analysis of staff notes regarding interactions with participants to explore the ways in which program staff provided a range of supports to participants. In addition, researchers conducted comparative analysis across the programs to explore how and why each program’s approach may work well for each program’s participants and in the context of each program’s goals.

Recommendations

Planning for the alignment between the program model, the population served, and the local context is essential to program success. It is important to clearly articulate how program components are expected to address the developmental needs of the specific population served and to develop a logic model that accurately represents the program’s focus population, program components, and approach to employer engagement. Then, it is essential that programs capture the types of data that define their focus population, youth participation in program components, and employer-engagement activities.

The formative evaluations also highlighted some common barriers to finding and maintaining employment for young people with foster care histories. These challenges can result in young people cycling through components of employment programs without becoming stably employed during program participation. Employment programs need to be aware of these barriers and identify ways of addressing them, including by partnering with local resource providers to serve young people in their program.

Programs, on their own or in partnership with local resource providers, can

provide access to concrete resources such as transportation and cell phones or laptops;
provide access to legal resources;
ensure young people know when and how to communicate their challenges to an employer;
maintain communications with the child welfare system for young people currently in care and community organizations for those who have left care to support participants in maintaining housing; and
prepare their participants for how to handle emotionally triggering or unfamiliar situations in the workplace.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected families with young children significantly, especially as access to safe and affordable child care has been limited and parents have needed to stay home and reduce their work hours. We use data from the most recent (December 2020) wave of the Well Being and Basic Needs Survey, a nationally representative survey of nonelderly adults, to visually illustrate how families with young children were faring in regards to material hardship and the impact of increased child care responsibilities. We find that many adults in these households wanted to work more hours but could not because of child care responsibilities. We also found that adults working fewer hours to provide child care were disproportionately single, had lower incomes, were working part-time if employed, were experiencing job loss, and were experiencing serious psychological distress. These challenges are likely to persist in the coming months because young children cannot yet be vaccinated, and recent research suggests that child care options have become more expensive during the pandemic and may remain hard to find. These families need a variety of supports to ensure they have the health and economic stability necessary to thrive.

The child care subsidy system supports both parents’ ability to work and children’s healthy development by helping parents with low incomes pay for child care so they can work or go to school or training.  Yet many questions remain about equity in the subsidy system: To what extent does it consider inequities that Black and Latino families and immigrant families can face because of structural racism? Specifically, do subsidy policies and practices ensure that families facing barriers rooted in structural racism can access child care subsidies? Are these families able use those subsidies to access child care equal to that accessed by other families? Finally, what steps can policymakers take to ensure their subsidy systems are equitable?

Based on a review of the scant literature on this topic and interviews with 28 experts, this report examines these questions. It first details the range of policies and practices that shape whether families can get and keep a subsidy. These include issues such as experiences families may have in dealing with child care subsidy agencies, whether they are likely to know about availability of and eligibility for subsidies, the ease or difficulty of accessing the agency,  whether they are in a priority group to get the limited funds, the ease or difficulty of applying for subsidies and proving eligibility, and how the state authorizes hours they will pay for child care. The report then examines the policies shaping whether the subsidy system helps address inequities in access to quality child care options that meet these families’ needs. These include the fundamental challenge of relying on the private market, decisions about which providers are eligible to get subsidies, what providers have to do to be approved for payment, how much providers are actually paid, and the role of copayments and other fees. In each of these areas, the report includes detailed suggestions for actions states can take to make their subsidy systems more equitable.


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