UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS URBANA-CHAMPAIGN

Publications

Mar 2022 / Research Brief / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Theodore P. Cross, Debra Whitcomb, and Emi Maren

Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) are central to the response to child sexual abuse and other child maltreatment in the United States. CACs coordinate the investigative and service response to child victimization, and support child survivors and their families to reduce the stress that follows a child maltreatment allegation. Multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) are the mechanism CACs use to coordinate investigation and service delivery in a centralized, child-friendly setting. CACs use forensic interviewers specially trained to work with children; and offer children and families medical, therapeutic, advocacy services, and other services. Presenting results from a U.S. survey of CAC directors, this research brief focuses on the composition of MDTs and the forms of assistance CACs provide. Compared to previous studies, this brief provides more detailed information on the kinds of help that CACs provide and the range of agencies that participate in CACs


Feb 2022 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
The Relationship of DNA Evidence to Prosecution Outcomes in Sexual Assault CasesWEB
Theodore Cross, Laura Siller, Maja Vlajnic, and Megan Alderden

This study examined the relationship between DNA evidence and outcomes of prosecution of sexual assault. Researchers coded data from prosecutor and crime laboratory files for sexual assault cases referred to prosecutors between 2005 and 2011 in a metropolitan jurisdiction in the northeastern United States. Cases with a DNA match were significantly more likely to move forward and result in conviction, even with other predictor variables statistically controlled. Analyses suggest DNA evidence contributes to case progression but also is a result of it. These findings strengthen the case for quality forensic medical examinations, investment in DNA analysis, and increased prosecutor training.

Cross, T. P., Siller, L., Vlajnic, M., & Alderden, M. (2022). The Relationship of DNA Evidence to Prosecution Outcomes in Sexual Assault Cases. Violence Against Women. https://doi.org/10.1177/10778012221077124

Jan 2022 / Journal Publication / Simulation Training Evaluation    
Development and Application of a Self-Report Measure for Measuring Change During Simulation Training in Child Protection
Yu-Ling Chiu, Theodore Cross, Amy Wheeler, Susan Evans & Betsy Goulet

A national movement has been developed in the last decade to use simulation training to train child welfare workers. This article reports on a practical measurement method, Daily Experience of Simulation Training (DEST), that the authors have used since 2018 to evaluate every cohort in a week-long statewide simulation training program for new child protection investigators. The DEST measures daily changes in trainees’ self-report confidence, solicits feedback on the training team, and offers trainees the opportunity to reflect on their experience. Trainees report substantially increased confidence in 13 child protection skills, provided positive feedback to the training team, and offered a number of suggestions for improvement. We discuss methods for implementing a measurement system like the DEST, even for programs with limited resources. DEST results demonstrated considerable consistency across 27 training cohorts. Copies of the article are available from the first author at chiu22@illinois.edu.

Chiu, Y. L., Cross, T. P., Wheeler, A. B., Evans, S. M., & Goulet, B. P.(2021). Development and Application of a Self-Report Measure for Measuring Change During Simulation Training in Child Protection. Journal of Public Child Welfare. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/15548732.2021.2016546

Jan 2022 / Journal Publication    
The Accuracy of Arrest Data in the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)
Theodore P. Cross, Alex Wagner, and Daniel Bibel

The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) is a national crime database compiled by the Federal Bureau Investigation from data submitted by hundreds of law enforcement agencies across the country. NIBRS is used to study national crime trends and has been employed in scores of crime studies for more than two decades, but its accuracy for capturing arrest data has never been fully tested. This study compared NIBRS arrest data in a statewide sample with arrest and summons data on the same cases collected directly from law enforcement agencies (LEAs). NIBRS matched LEA data in 84.1% of cases. However, 5.8% of LEA arrests and 52.9% of LEA summons were false negatives, that is, they were incorrectly represented as not cleared by arrest in NIBRS. False negatives were more likely when more than 1 day elapsed between incident and arrest and when the crimes were sexual assault or intimidation. False negatives were less likely in small LEAs (for summons) Recommendations are presented for improving accuracy.

Cross, T.P., Wagner, A. & Bibel, D. (2022). The accuracy of arrest data in the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). Crime & Delinquency 1-24. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1177/00111287211067180

Dec 2021 / Journal Publication / Simulation Training Evaluation    
Evaluation of a Simulation Training Program for New Child Protection Investigators: A Survey of Investigators in the Field
Ted Cross, Yu-Ling Chiu, Kirsten Havig, Laura Lee, and Steve Tran

A new movement has developed to provide simulation training to child protection professionals to prepare them to work with families around child safety and well-being. This article reports on a survey of child protection investigators in Illinois that was conducted as part of a program evaluation of a prominent simulation training program, the Child Protection Training Academy. Simulation-trained investigators continued to value their simulation training months to years later, rated their certification training more highly than investigators without simulation training, and reported less difficulty developing the skills of evidence-based documentation and testifying in court.

Cross, T. P., Chiu, Y. L., Havig, K., Lee, L., & Tran, S. P. (2021). Evaluation of a simulation training program for new child protection investigators: A survey of investigators in the field. Children and Youth Services Review, 131. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2021.106295

Dec 2021 / Research Brief / Outcomes Monitoring, Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Theodore Cross, Steve Tran, Eliza Betteridge, Robert Hjertquist, Tawny Spinelli, Jennifer Prior Neil Jordan, and Soonhyung Kwon

Screening children who are entering out-of-home care is widely implemented but not thoroughly studied. Using a sample from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, we examined whether emotional and behavioral needs identified by an Integrated Assessment (IA) at entry predict needs and services while in care. This research brief is reproduced from Chapter 5 of the 2021 Monitoring Report for the B.H. Consent Decree and adapted from a journal article by the authors. Data from the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) measure completed in the IA were combined with data from a point-in-time study of the well-being of children in out-of-home care. Having a behavioral or emotional need identified at entry predicted having a similar need and receiving mental health services during out-of-home c are. The relationship did not diminish with length of time in care; IA CANS predicted needs and services even for children in substitute care for an extended period. These results provide evidence for the validity of the IA CANS for screening for children’s needs in out-of-home care. The persistence of problems suggests the value of baseline screening as a guide for service delivery throughout children’s stay in care, and the need for more effective mental health services specially tailored for children in substitute care.


Nov 2021 / Report    
Ted Cross and Yu-Ling Chiu

Child Advocacy Studies Training (CAST) of the Zero Abuse Project is a national program responding to the deficit in education in child maltreatment. Colleges and universities throughout the United States provide CAST courses and certificate or minor programs to educate undergraduate and graduate students in child maltreatment and help prepare many for careers in child-serving professions. Through the effort of Children’s Advocacy Centers of MississippiTM (CACM), Mississippi implemented CAST across a wide range of the state’s institutions of higher education. CFRC has completed a final report from a mixed methods program evaluation of Mississippi’s CAST Initiative. The program evaluation features multiple components. It included a study of the implementation, development, and student and faculty experiences of CAST programs based on interviews with faculty and CAST graduates. The program evaluation also included an outcome study assessing students’ experience of their CAST courses, and comparing CAST and non-CAST students on their knowledge and judgment about child maltreatment. CAST is firmly established and highly valued in a range of different colleges and universities in Mississippi. Most CAST students rated their CAST courses highly on multiple dimensions. Mississippi CAST students had knowledge and skills that were superior to non-CAST students. CAST students’ knowledge and skills positions them to respond more effectively to child maltreatment in their young careers.


Nov 2021 / Presentation    
Ted Cross and Yu-Ling Chiu

Child Advocacy Studies Training (CAST) of the Zero Abuse Project is a national program responding to the deficit in education in child maltreatment. Colleges and universities throughout the United States provide CAST courses and certificate or minor programs to educate undergraduate and graduate students in child maltreatment and help prepare many for careers in child-serving professions. Through the effort of Children’s Advocacy Centers of MississippiTM (CACM), Mississippi implemented CAST across a wide range of the state’s institutions of higher education. This presentation at Mississippi’s annual One Loud Voice conference provides highlights from a two-year mixed methods program evaluation of Mississippi’s CAST Initiative that CFRC conducted.


Oct 2021 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring    
Tamara Fuller, Cady Landa, Satomi Wakita, and Kyle Adams

Child welfare systems across the nation share the concern that children from some racial and ethnic groups may be disproportionately represented in the child welfare system compared to their representation in the general population. This report examines racial disproportionality in the Illinois child welfare system at five critical decision points during 2014–2020, including: 1) screened-in maltreatment reports/investigations, 2) protective custodies, 3) indicated maltreatment reports, 4) child welfare case openings (intact family services), 5) substitute care entries, and 6) timely exits from substitute care. The results are presented for the entire state as well as by region.


Oct 2021 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring    
Tamara Fuller, Martin Nieto, Kyle Adams, Yu-Ling Chiu, Theodore Cross, Cady Landa, Laura Lee, Steve Tran, Satomi Wakita, and Shufen Wang

Since its inception in 1996, the Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) has produced an annual report that monitors the performance of the Illinois child welfare system in achieving its stated goals of child safety, permanency, and well-being. The FY2021 monitoring report uses child welfare administrative data through December 31, 2020 to describe the conditions of children in or at risk of foster care in Illinois. Following an introductory chapter, the results are presented in five chapters that examine critical child welfare outcomes, including child safety, continuity and stability in care, legal permanence, racial disproportionality, and child well-being.


Sep 2021 / Journal Publication    
Mississippi's Experience Implementing a Statewide Child Advocacy Studies Training (CAST) Initiative
Ted Cross and Yu-Ling Chiu

In response to a national deficit in education about child maltreatment, colleges and universities throughout the United States provide Child Advocacy Studies Training (CAST) courses and CAST certificate or minor programs to educate undergraduate and graduate students in child maltreatment. This article reports results from an implementation evaluation of Mississippi’s CAST Initiative, the first effort to implement CAST courses and programs in colleges and universities throughout a state. Through interviews with administrators and faculty implementing CAST in Mississippi, we provide a brief history of the initiative, review the initial development of CAST courses and programs, discuss considerations related to the program’s implementation, and report faculty’s plans for the future of CAST. Our evaluation provides evidence that the implementation of Mississippi’s CAST initiative has had considerable success and has good prospects for enduring. Our findings also expand knowledge about the contextual issues involved in implementation, point to the value of strong partnerships between CAST colleges and universities and community organizations, and identify some considerations connected to expanding enrollment in CAST. Copies of the article are available from the first author at tpcross@llinois.edu.

Cross, T.P. & Chiu, Y. (2021). Mississippi’s experience implementing a statewide Child Advocacy Studies Training (CAST) initiative. Journal of Family Trauma, Child Custody & Child Development. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/26904586.2021.1951418

Sep 2021 / Report / Simulation Training Evaluation    
Ted Cross, Yu-Ling Chiu, Shufen Wang, Laura Lee, Steve Tran, and Kirsten Havig

In FY2021, the Children and Family Research Center’s (CFRC) evaluation team again used multiple sub-studies to examine the implementation and outcomes of simulation training for new child protection investigators in the Illinois Department of Children and Family Service. This is an important time historically to study simulation training because of the effect of COVID-19 on trainees, their work and the training itself. Chapter 1 summarizes CTPA’s implementation in 2021: adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic through virtual methods, training supervisors in problem-based learning, and re-formatting investigator training. Chapter 2 presents results from the Daily Experience of Simulation Training (DEST) measure. The measure was designed to examine change in trainees’ confidence over the course of simulation training. This is an important time to assess DEST results, because of changes in simulation training during FY2021, as discussed in the Introduction. Chapter 3 offers updated results from a post-training satisfaction survey. The chapter reports trainees’ satisfaction ratings for simulation training over this time period. It also provides qualitative results from the analysis of open-ended items in the post-training satisfaction survey. Chapter 4 examines whether simulation training is related to employee turnover. Using two different analytic methods, it asks whether investigators trained using simulation training have stayed in their jobs longer than investigators who were not provided simulation training. Chapter 5 examines the relationship of simulation training to child safety. We compared sim-trained and non-sim-trained investigators on the likelihood that children in their investigations were involved in re-reports to DCFS. The last chapter provides the conclusion of this year’s evaluation and recommendations for improving the program.


Sep 2021 / Report / Children's Mental Health Systems of Care    
Tamara Fuller, Theodore Cross, Yu-ling Chiu, Cady Landa, Kirsten Havig, and Steven Tran

This report presents the results of the first annual stakeholder survey that was administered to system of care stakeholders in the five CMHI 3.0 communities. The stakeholder survey is an important component of the evaluation of the Children's Mental Health Initiative that assesses the degree to which various implementation supports and activities have been implemented, such as a strategic plan that guides implementation and a steering committee that meets frequently. The survey also assesses fidelity to the systems of care principles in the service delivery system, including the extent to which services are individualized, family-driven, youth-guided, coordinated, culturally and linguistically competent, based on evidence-informed and promising practices, least restrictive, and comprehensive. Finally, the Stakeholder Survey includes sections that measure several system-level outcomes, including availability of specific home- and community-based services, residential and non-residential treatment services, and evidence-based mental health interventions; coordination among various child- and family-serving systems (child welfare, education, public health, juvenile justice, primary health, substance abuse, and mental and behavioral health); and commitment to the SOC philosophy and approach.


Aug 2021 / Research Brief / Safety and Risk    
Steve Tran and Tamara Fuller

This research brief highlights the findings from the most recent CDRT annual report on child deaths that occurred in Illinois in 2019. The brief presents summary information about child deaths in Illinois by age, race, and by the category and manner of death, as well as examples of CDRT recommendations to prevent child deaths.


Aug 2021 / Research Brief / Safety and Risk    
Steve Tran and Tamara Fuller

This research brief uses data from the annual CDRT reports to examine trends in child deaths between 2010 and 2019. The brief describes trends in total child deaths by child age, manner and category of death, as well as programs and initiatives in the state to prevent and reduce child deaths.


Aug 2021 / Research Brief / Safety and Risk    
Steve Tran and Bernadette Emery

Many of the reviews conducted by the Illinois Child Death Review Teams (CDRTs) involve unsafe sleep, and for the past several years they have has sought to bring increased attention to infant deaths due to unsafe sleep. The Illinois Child Death Review conducted a detailed examination of these deaths by child race/ethnicity, gender, age, sleeping position, and the locations and environments of the deaths. This brief highlights the findings of these analyses.


Jun 2021 / Report / Children's Mental Health Systems of Care    
Tamara Fuller, Steve Tran, Theodore Cross, Yu-ling Chiu, Cady Landa, and Kirsten Havig

This report presents the results of the first annual stakeholder survey that was administered to system of care stakeholders in the five CMHI 3.0 communities. The stakeholder survey is an important component of the evaluation of the Children's Mental Health Initiative that assesses the degree to which various implementation supports and activities have been implemented, such as a strategic plan that guides implementation and a steering committee that meets frequently. The survey also assesses fidelity to the systems of care principles in the service delivery system, including the extent to which services are individualized, family-driven, youth-guided, coordinated, culturally and linguistically competent, based on evidence-informed and promising practices, least restrictive, and comprehensive. Finally, the Stakeholder Survey includes sections that measure several system-level outcomes, including availability of specific home- and community-based services, residential and non-residential treatment services, and evidence-based mental health interventions; coordination among various child- and family-serving systems (child welfare, education, public health, juvenile justice, primary health, substance abuse, and mental and behavioral health); and commitment to the SOC philosophy and approach.


Mar 2021 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Steve Tran, Soonhyung Kwon, and Theodore Cross

The 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study found that many children and youth in out-of-home care in the state have significant developmental, physical, emotional, behavioral and/or educational challenges. However, some children in the study are capable of functioning well at home and school, despite the trauma of abuse and neglect and the difficulties of living in out-of-home care. We used measures from the study to examine how frequently children and youth functioned well across multiple measures. We found that many Illinois children and youth in out-of-home care demonstrated behavioral, emotional and educational resilience across multiple measures of functioning. Child welfare practice needs to take into account children and youth’s resilience and build on their strengths.


Feb 2021 / Report    
Laura Lee, Steve Tran, Michael Braun, Robin LaSota, and Tamara Fuller

Public Act 100-0879, enacted in August 2018, created a bi-partisan task force to: 1) study the compensation and workload of child welfare workers, 2) determine the role that these factors play in the recruitment and retention of the child welfare workers, and 3) determine the role that staff turnover plays in achieving safety and timely permanence for children. The Children and Family Research Center assisted the task force by conducting a literature review of the factors that impact child welfare worker retention and implementing a survey of all child welfare employers within Illinois to examine the role that compensation and other factors have on retention. This report contains the findings of the literature review and survey, as well as the recommendations that the task force made to improve child welfare retention.


Feb 2021 / Journal Publication / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
The Relationship of Needs Assessed at Entry Into Out-of-Home Care to Children and Youth’s Later Emotional and Behavioral Problems in Care
Theodore Cross, Steve Tran, Eliza Betteridge, Robert Hjertquist, Tawny Spinelli , Jennifer Prior, and Neil Jordan

Screening children who are entering out-of-home care is widely implemented but not thoroughly studied. Using a sample from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, This study examines whether emotional and behavioral needs identified by an Integrated Assessment (IA) at entry predict needs and services while in care. Data from the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) measure completed in the IA were combined with data from a point-in-time study of the well-being of children in out-of-home care. Logistic regression analyses found that having a need identified at entry predicted having a similar need and receiving mental health services during out-of-home care (p < .05 to p < .001). The relationship did not diminish with length of time in care; IA CANS predicted needs and services even for children in out-of-home care for many years. These results provide evidence for the validity of the IA CANS for screening for children’s needs in out-of-home care. The persistence of problems suggests the value of baseline screening as a guide for service delivery throughout children’s stay in care, and the need for more effective mental health services specially tailored for children in out-of-home care.

Cross, T., Tran, S., Betteridge, E., Hjertquist, R., Spinelli, T., Prior, J., & Jordan, N. (2021). The relationship of needs assessed at entry into out-of-home care to children and youth’s later emotional and behavioral problems in care. Children and Youth Services Review, 122(2021).

Oct 2020 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Ted Cross, Steve Tran, and Soonhyung Kwon

Considerable research has shown that early childhood education can contribute to children’s school readiness and later academic achievement and well-being. Early childhood education is particularly important for children in out-of-home care. Many young Illinois children in out-of-home care through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services lag in development and many older children in out-of-home care have problems succeeding at school. This brief examines how frequently children in this age group in IDCFS care receive early childhood education, using data from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study.


Oct 2020 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring    
Tamara Fuller, Michael Braun, Satomi Wakita, and Kyle Adams

Child welfare systems across the nation share the concern that children from some racial minority groups may be disproportionately represented in the child welfare system compared to their representation in the general population. One of the goals in the Department’s Child Welfare Transformation Strategic Plan is to track racial equity at critical decision points to help inform planning and decision-making. This report provides information relevant to that goal by examining racial disproportionality in the Illinois child welfare system at five critical decision points (see Figure 1) during 2013–2019, including: 1) investigated/screened-in maltreatment reports, 2) protective custodies, 3) indicated maltreatment reports, 4) post-investigation service provision, including substitute care and intact family services, and 5) timely exits from substitute care.


Oct 2020 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Theodore Cross, Soonhyung Kwon, and Steve Tran

Studies have found that a substantial proportion of youth in out-of-home care have been the victims of sexual violence, and that troubling percentages of these youth engage in risky sexual behaviors. This brief uses data from the 2017 Illinois Study of Child Well-Being to examine the sexual experiences of Illinois youth in out-of-home care. In this brief, we focus on the following variables: having sexual intercourse, having non-consensual sexual intercourse (and age at first intercourse), using protection while having sex, becoming pregnant (for girls) or getting someone pregnant (for boys), having children, and receiving family planning services. The results underlines the need for foster parents and child welfare workers to be aware of youths’ sexual behavior and make sure that youth have the knowledge to deal with their sexuality responsibly.


Oct 2020 / Report    
Theodore Cross and Yu-Ling Chiu

This report presents interim results from the program evaluation of Mississippi’s Child Advocacy Studies Training (CAST) initiative, the first statewide effort to increase undergraduate and graduate students’ knowledge and skills for responding to child maltreatment. Colleges and universities throughout Mississippi provide CAST courses and certificate or minor programs to educate undergraduate and graduate students about child maltreatment and help prepare many for careers in child-serving professions, especially child protection. CFRC is conducting a mixed methods evaluation that includes both an implementation study based on interviews with faculty and an outcome study using surveys assessing CAST students’ experience, knowledge and judgment.


Oct 2020 / Research Brief / Safety and Risk    
Steve Tran and Bernadette Emery

Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths were the 3rd leading cause of death of children in Illinois in 2018, and many of the deaths reviewed by the CDRTs were sleep related. The CDRT Executive Council and CDRTs therefore requested additional information on these deaths in the 2018 Child Death Review Teams annual report. This brief highlights findings from the special chapter on Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths During Sleep from the 2018 annual report.


Oct 2020 / Research Brief / Safety and Risk    
Tamara Fuller and Steve Tran

This research brief, the third in a series that highlights the important work of the CDRTs in Illinois, uses data from the annual CDRT reports to examine trends in child deaths over the past decade. The brief describes trends in total child deaths and trends in the number of deaths by child age, manner of death, and category and death.


Sep 2020 / Research Brief / Safety and Risk    
Steve Tran and Tamara Fuller

This research brief, the second in a series that highlights the important work of the Illinois Child Death Review Teams (CDRTs) in Illinois, highlights the findings from the most recent CDRT annual report on child deaths that occurred in Illinois in 2018. The brief presents summary information about child deaths in Illinois by age, race, and by the manner and category of death, as well as examples of CDRT recommendations to prevent child deaths.


Sep 2020 / Research Brief / Safety and Risk    
Tamara Fuller and Steve Tran

This research brief, the first in a series that highlights the important work of the Illinois Child Death Review Teams (CDRTs), provides an introduction and overview of the CDRT process in Illinois. The brief discusses the circumstances in which the CDRTs will review a child’s death, the review process, and the impact of child death reviews.


Sep 2020 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Tamara Fuller, Satomi Wakita, Martin Nieto, and Laura Lee

The FY2020 CERAP evaluation uses the most recently available administrative data to re-examine the predictive validity of the CERAP by analyzing the relationship between CERAP completion at the conclusion of the investigation and a future criterion measure of child safety (i.e., short-term maltreatment recurrence). The analyses examined the relationship between indicated investigations that did and did not have a safety assessment at the conclusion of the investigation and the rates of maltreatment recurrence within 30, 60, and 90 days of the investigation close date for each fiscal year between 2014 and 2019. The results are inconsistent across the years and therefore difficult to interpret.


Sep 2020 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Ted Cross, Steve Tran, and Soonhyung Kwon

Research has shown that youth in out-of-home care have high rates of alcohol and illegal substance use. It is important then to track alcohol and substance use as part of monitoring the well-being of Illinois children and youth in out-of-home care. The 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study provided the first estimates of alcohol and substance use for these children and youth in a decade. This research brief provides results on alcohol and substance use from this study, including results not included in the main study report. The results suggest that most Illinois youth age 15 to 17 in out-of-home care have used alcohol and illegal substances in their life. Over a third in this age group had used alcohol or illegal substances in the last 30 days. Few caregivers reported that their child had an alcohol or substance abuse problem, and small numbers of youth reported using alcohol or illegal substances frequently in the past month. Nevertheless, we cannot be certain what proportion of these youth have a problem with alcohol and/or substance abuse, because caregivers may not know the extent of their child’s alcohol and substance use, and youth may be under-reporting their use.


Sep 2020 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Ted Cross, Steve Tran, and Soonhyung Kwon

Several studies nationally and in Illinois have found that children in out-of-home care are at increased risk for delinquency. This brief uses data from the 2017 Illinois study of Child Well-Being to examine the frequency of delinquent behaviors among Illinois youth in out-of-home care—the first such analysis in a decade. Overall 40.3% of youth aged 11 to 17 reported engaging in at least one delinquent act in the last six months. This proportion increased to two-thirds when we focused on older adolescents aged 15 to 17. The rate of delinquent behavior is lower than the 52% found in a 2005 study of Illinois youth in out-of-home care. More research is needed to assess the severity of delinquency. Nevertheless, these results suggest that there is an ongoing need to monitor these youth’s behavior and take steps to prevent delinquency.


Sep 2020 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Ted Cross, Steve Tran, and Soonhyung Kwon

A substantial proportion of children in out-of-home care through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS) have emotional and behavioral problems. Given this substantial need, it is especially important to track whether children in out-of-home care are receiving the behavioral health services they need. Through interviews with caregivers, the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study of Illinois children in out-of-home care examined what behavioral health services children and youth were currently receiving and had ever received. This brief presents results on the frequency of receiving different behavioral health services. Most children and youth with emotional or behavioral problems were receiving a behavioral health service, though much remains unknown about the type and quality of behavioral health services they receive.


Sep 2020 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Steve Tran, Theodore Cross, and Soonhyung Kwon

Decades of research have shown that many children and adolescents in out-of-home care through child protective services have emotional and behavioral problems. This research brief reports on the emotional and behavioral health among children in out-of-home care through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), using data from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study. Both caregiver and child reports suggest that large percentages of children and youth in out-of-home care have emotional and behavioral problems, with especially high rates among children and youth in specialized foster care, group homes, and residential treatment; even children in traditional and kinship foster care had rates of emotional and behavioral problems that exceed those of children and youth in general.


Sep 2020 / Report / Simulation Training Evaluation    
Yu-Ling Chiu, Laura Lee, and Theodore P. Cross

The FY2020 evaluation report of the Child Protection Training Academy presents an array of data on implementation and impacts. Chapter 1 focuses on the implementation of a second simulation laboratory for new investigators that opened in Chicago in April 2019. The results suggest that the Chicago laboratory is a modest re-invention of the Springfield laboratory, using Rogers’ terminology on diffusion of innovations. The combined work of DCFS, UIUC and UIS aimed at producing programs that were comparable clearly had an effect, and the extra work and travel of UIS trainers to help make this happen are noteworthy. Chapter 2 presents results from the Daily Experience of Simulation Training (DEST) measure. As in previous years, the DEST in FY2020 shows that the confidence that trainees report increased substantially from the beginning to the end of the simulation training week. Chapter 3 offers new quantitative results from a post-training satisfaction survey. Results corroborate the satisfaction that trainees reported on the DEST. Across eight satisfaction items, trainees gave simulation training positive to very positive ratings. Chapter 4 presents a content analysis of responses on the post-training satisfaction survey in which trainees describe their simulation training experience and offer suggestions for program improvement. The survey respondents reported that the training provided realistic simulation and increased their knowledge about what they will face in the field. They described positive emotional effects on increasing confidence and decreasing self-doubt. Chapter 5 discusses the implications for understanding and developing the simulation training program and recommendations for program improvement.


Sep 2020 / Journal Publication / Simulation Training Evaluation    
How a Training Team Delivers Simulation Training of Child Protection InvestigatorsWEB
Yu-Ling Chiu and Theodore P. Cross

This article presents results of a qualitative study regarding how a training team delivers simulation training for child protection investigators. Since 2016, a team from the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS) has collaborated with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to implement the Child Protection Training Academy (CPTA) that provides full-scale simulations has been implemented for training all new child protection investigators. Using key informant interviews and focus groups, we explored how the training team, including the simulation trainer, the standardized patients playing the role of the family in a mock family house, and the professionals playing roles in a mock courtroom, collaborate to shape the simulation training. The qualitative data point to the central role of the trainer’s blend of skills, the dedication of the standardized patients staying in character, the interest of role-playing professionals in correcting misconceptions about court, and the teamwork involved in implementing simulation training.

Chiu, Y. & Cross, T. P. (2020). How a training team delivers simulation training of child protection investigators. Children and Youth Services Review, 118. In press. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2020.105390

Aug 2020 / Research Brief / Outcomes Monitoring, Safety and Risk, Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Children and Family Research Center

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is responsible for assuring the safety, family permanence, and well-being of the children who have been investigated for abuse or neglect or who have been removed from their homes and placed into substitute care. For over two decades, the Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) has produced an annual monitoring report that tracks the performance of the Illinois child welfare system on over 40 measures of child safety, family continuity, placement stability, permanence, as well as new indicators involving racial disproportionality. The full report, which is available on the CFRC website, examines each measure over the past seven years and provides detailed tables and figures that examine differences among child age and racial groups. This brief highlights five noteworthy findings from the most recent report, which tracks performance through FY2019.


Aug 2020 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Theodore P. Cross, Soonhyung Kwon, and Steve Tran

Many children in out-of-home care have emotional and behavioral problems, so it is not surprising that many receive psychiatric medication. This research brief reports on the use of psychiatric medication among children in out-of-home care through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), using data from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study. This is a new analysis with findings that are not available in the study final report. Based on data from caregivers about their child, just over one-fifth of children and youth were receiving psychiatric medication, but rates were much higher among youth age 15 to 17 and youth in specialized foster care, group homes and residential treatment.


Aug 2020 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring    
Tamara Fuller, Martin Nieto, Kyle A. Adams III, Michael Braun, Yu-Ling Chiu, Laura Lee, Steve Tran, Satomi Wakita, Shufen Wang

Since its inception in 1996, the Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) has produced an annual report that monitors the performance of the Illinois child welfare system in achieving its stated goals of child safety, permanency, and well-being. The FY2020 monitoring report uses child welfare administrative data through December 31, 2019 to describe the conditions of children in or at risk of foster care in Illinois. Following an introductory chapter, the results are presented in four chapters that examine critical child welfare outcomes, including child safety, continuity and stability in care, legal permanence, and racial disproportionality.


Jul 2020 / Journal Publication / Simulation Training Evaluation    
Moving from Procedure to Practice: A Statewide Child Protection Simulation Training ModelWEB
Betsy Goulet , Ted Cross , Yu-Ling Chiu, and Susan Evans

In FY 2015 the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services partnered with the University of Illinois Springfield to develop the Child Protection Training Academy in order to redesign the six-week classroom training for new investigators and create an experiential component. This paper chronicles the goals of the partnership and the planning and implementation of the Academy.

Betsy P. Goulet , Theodore P. Cross , Yu-Ling Chiu & Susan Evans (2020): Moving from procedure to practice: a statewide child protection simulation training model. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 15(5), 597-616. DOI: 10.1080/15548732.2020.1777247

Mar 2020 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Ted Cross, Steve Tran, and Aide Hernandez

Most children in out-of-home care because of child maltreatment remain attached to their birth parents despite the abuse or neglect they have suffered from them. This research brief reports on relationships with birth parents for children in out-of- home care through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), using data from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study. Contact with birth parents was a positive experience for many children in out-of-home care, but not enough children had the positive contact with birth parents they needed.


Mar 2020 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Ted Cross, Aide Hernandez, and Steve Tran

Disproportionate percentages of children in out-of-home care have poor outcomes on child development, health, behavioral health, and education. Yet some children in out-of-home care are resilient and do well even if they have been placed out of home because they were maltreated. In this brief, we use data from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study to learn about the resilience of Illinois children in out-of-home care. Most children and youth reported positive relationships with adults and positive activities such as sports and hobbies. Most had positive expectations for their future. These results suggest that many children and youth have strengths to count on to deal with the stresses and difficulties of experiencing child maltreatment, being removed from their home, and not yet having a permanent home to return to.


Mar 2020 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Ted Cross, Megan Alderden, Alex Wagner, Lisa Sampson, Brittany Peters, and Kaitlin Lounsbury

This study examined the timing of the crime laboratory report relative to arrests in sexual assault cases and explored the relationship between biological evidence and arrest in those cases in which the crime laboratory report came first and thus could have influenced the arrest decision. A random sample (N = 528) of cases that occurred between 2008 and 2010 and included a report to police was drawn from a Massachusetts statewide database of medical reports on sexual assault cases. Data from medical providers were merged with data abstracted from crime laboratory reports and with data requested from police departments. The vast majority (91.5%) of arrests took place before crime laboratory analysis could be conducted. The crime laboratory report was available before or near in time to the arrest in 11 cases. These cases were significantly more likely than other cases to have DNA profiles of the assailant, DNA matches to the suspect, and a match to another investigation in the FBI&rsquo;s CODIS DNA database. Given that the probable cause needed to make an arrest in these cases was presumably established only after crime laboratory analysis was available, DNA may have helped lead to the arrest in these cases. However, these results should be interpreted very cautiously, because statistically significant results in early, small studies can have inflated effect sizes and often do not replicate in future studies. Because most arrests occur well before biological evidence is available, improvements in recovering biological evidence may have modest effects on arrest rates, though they may impact arrest rates by identifying more serial offenders. Future research on the relationship of biological evidence to arrest should use methods to increase sample size of relevant cases, such as oversampling cases with later arrests and using case control study designs. Future studies should also use case abstraction and interview methods to explore how police use biological evidence to make arrests.

Cross, T.P., Alderden, M.A, Wagner, A., Sampson, L., Peters, B. & Lounsbury, K. (2020). Biological evidence in adult and adolescent sexual assault cases: Timing and relationship to arrest. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 7/8, 1828-1939.

Mar 2020 / Journal Publication    
Victor Vieth, Betsy Goulet, Michele Knox, Jennifer Parker, Lisa Johnson, and Ted Cross

This article documents the growth of the Child Advocacy Studies (CAST) movement to improve education on child abuse for undergraduates and graduates training in child-serving professions. CAST programs provide instruction on a range of topics on child maltreatment and experiential learning using simulations of child protection professional encounters with families. CAST courses and programs have been implemented in 73 institutions of higher education in twenty states. CAST is a promising approach to improving the skills of child-serving professionals across the country in dealing with child abuse and neglect.

Vieth, Victor I.; Goulet, Betsy; Knox, Michele; Parker, Jennifer; Johnson, Lisa B.; Tye, Karla Steckler; and Cross, Theodore P. (2019) "Child Advocacy Studies (CAST): A National Movement to Improve the Undergraduate and Graduate Training of Child Protection Professionals," Mitchell Hamline Law Review: Vol. 45 : Iss. 4 , Article 5.

Mar 2020 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Aide Hernandez, Steve Tran, and Ted Cross

Considerable research shows that many children in out-of-home care have serious health problems. This research brief profiles the health of Illinois children in out-of-home care, using data from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study. Caregivers’ responses suggested that nearly half of children had a serious or chronic health condition, and almost a third of youths interviewed reported a serious or chronic health problem. More than a quarter of youth reported that they had seen a doctor or nurse for an injury in the previous year. The good news is that high rates of children were receiving preventative health and dental services, according to caseworkers. The high rates of health problems and injuries among children in out-of-home care means that we need to be vigilant about understanding and responding to their health care needs.


Mar 2020 / Report / Children's Mental Health Systems of Care    
Michael Braun, Yu-ling Chiu, Theodore Cross, Tamara Fuller, and Steve Tran

This report provides information from the first round of site visits conducted in each of the five sites at the end of the 13-month planning period. During the planning period, sites were expected to “build the local infrastructure necessary to fully implement their CMHI 2.0 plan.” They were expected to develop an organizational structure and project leadership, and engage a community planning team in which 25% of its members were self-identified consumers (parents and youth). They also needed to conduct an analysis of the community’s strengths (assets) and weaknesses (gaps in services), and of the current system of care in the community. Finally, they had to develop a strategic plan to implement a CMHI 2.0 project that is consistent with CASSP principles and address each of the 11 outcome goals. Given these expectations for the planning period, this report provides information to address the following topics and questions:

  1. What is the current status of the system of care in each community?
  2. Describe the leadership that was in place during the planning period. What activities or strategies did the leaders use? Did the participants feel that the leadership was effective?
  3. Describe the community planning team. How were people recruited? How did meetings work? What was accomplished during them? What role did the community planning team have in developing the strategic plan?
  4. What role did parents and youth play on the community planning team? How were parents and youth recruited? How were they kept engaged? How was their participation shaped?
  5. How were activities in the strategic plan selected? What did this process look like? Did the community planning team or executive team play a role in this?
  6. What are the next steps for implementing systems of care in the sites? Are they ready to begin implementing now that the funding has arrived, or is there more planning to do?


Dec 2019 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Ted Cross, Aide Hernandez, and Steve Tran

Having a good relationship with a foster caregiver contributes substantially to children’s well-being in foster care. Assessing this relationship for Illinois children helps us understand and potentially help improve their quality of life. This research brief updates the assessment of Illinois children’s relationship with their foster caregivers using data collected in 2017-2018. This brief is one in a series that presents capsule summaries of results from the 2017 Illinois Child-Well-Being Study in different domains of well-being.


Nov 2019 / Report    
Tamara Fuller, Laura Lee, and Robin LaSota

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services released CFRC's findings after their five-month review of the agency's Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline. The DCFS announced that it will adopt all recommendations from the Center's report, and has already started efforts to address key recommendations, particularly increasing staffing and upgrading technology.


Nov 2019 / Research Brief / Outcomes Monitoring, Safety and Risk, Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System  
Children and Family Research Center

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is responsible for assuring the safety, family permanency, and well-being of the children who have been investigated for abuse or neglect or who have been removed from their homes and placed into substitute care. For over two decades, the Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) has produced an annual monitoring report that tracks the performance of the Illinois child welfare system on over 40 different measures of safety, placement restrictiveness, placement stability, and timely, stable, and permanent family relationships. The full report, which is available on the CFRC website, examines each measure over the past seven years and provides detailed tables and figures that examine differences among child age and racial groups. This brief highlights five noteworthy findings from the most recent report, which tracks performance through June 2018.


Nov 2019 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Emergency Department Admissions of Child Sexual Abuse: Recent National Trends and Correlates
J. Helton, M. Vaughn, J. Carbone, and Ted Cross

For children who have been sexually abused, emergency department (ED) professionals provide immediate medical care, including testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, prophylaxis for potential HIV exposure, and emergency contraception.¹ In some cases, ED clinicians conduct forensic examinations to assist with child protection and criminal investigations.² Physicians and nurses in EDs are among the first to recognize the signs of sexual abuse and identify patients who are currently being abused, such as children being exploited in sex trafficking.³ Despite the medical, criminal justice, and protective roles that ED professionals serve in caring for vulnerable children, few data are available regarding the frequency with which children are admitted to the ED for sexual abuse. Therefore, this analysis observed patterns among children admitted to the ED for sexual abuse across the United States and examined important subgroup characteristics based on demographic and primary payer data.

Helton, J., Vaughn, M., Carbone, J. & Cross T.P. (2019). Emergency department admissions of child sexual abuse: Recent national trends and correlates. JAMA Pediatrics. Nov 04, 1-3

Oct 2019 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Ted Cross, Aide Hernandez, and Steve Tran

Children’s relationships with their siblings may be the one source of familial love that they can count on when they are placed in out-of-home care. Yet, placement in out-of-home care can separate children from their siblings. Illinois state law requires siblings who are in out-of-home care to be placed together whenever it is in their best interest and not in violation of other rules of the Department of Children and Family Services. This brief presents findings from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study on siblings of children in out-of-home care.. The study conducted interviews with caseworker, caregivers and children themselves to assess the well-being of a sample of 700 children in out-of-home care in the state. Many children in out-of-home care were placed with siblings, but a number of children had siblings in other placements, especially if there were three or more siblings in the family. Often children had limited contact with their siblings and wished for more interaction with them. These findings suggest the need for more progress to enable siblings in out-of-home care to live together and to strengthen the connections between siblings who must live apart.


Oct 2019 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Steve Tran, Ted Cross, and Aide Hernandez

National research indicates that children in out-of-home care because of abuse or neglect are at significant risk for developmental difficulties, but to date we have limited information on the development of children in out-of-home care in Illinois. This brief presents findings on child development from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study. The study conducted interviews with caseworker, caregivers and children themselves to assess the well-being of a sample of 700 children in out-of-home care in the state. On a caregiver checklist, more than one-fifth of young children had scores on a caregiver checklist that indicated possible developmental delay or a level of developmental risk that needed to be monitored, but many of these children were not receiving a developmental intervention. Children’s likelihood of receiving a development intervention they needed differed by type of placement and by region. These finding indicate the need to develop a better understanding of what developmental interventions children in out-of-home care receive and the obstacles that keep children from receiving the help they need.


Oct 2019 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Aide Hernandez, Ted Cross, and Steve Tran

An infographic presenting some of the major findings from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study.


Oct 2019 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring    
Tamara Fuller, Martin Nieto, Shufen Wang, Kyle A. Adams III, Satomi Wakita, Steve Tran, Yu-Ling Chiu, Michael Braun, Theodore P. Cross, Laura Lee, Aaron Burnett, Heidi Meyer

Since its inception in 1996, the Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) has produced an annual report that monitors the performance of the Illinois child welfare system in achieving its stated goals of child safety, permanency, and well-being. The FY2019 monitoring report uses child welfare administrative data through December 31, 2018 to describe the conditions of children in or at risk of foster care in Illinois. Following an introductory chapter, the results are presented in five chapters that examine critical child welfare outcomes, including child safety, continuity and stability in care, legal permanence, racial disproportionality, and child well-being.


Oct 2019 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Ted Cross, Aide Hernandez, and Steve Tran

Children are placed in out-of-home care through the Illinois Department of Children and Family services to protect their safety, so it especially important to assess their safety while in substitute care. This brief presents findings on child safety from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study. The study conducted interviews with caseworker, caregivers and children themselves to assess the well-being of a sample of 700 children in out-of-home care in the state. Substantial proportions of children in out-of-home care have witnessed and/or experienced violence in their life, but children and youth were much less likely to experience threats to their safety in their current placement. Substantial proportion of older adolescents and youth in group homes and residential treatment reported by physically hurt by someone in the past year. Overall, these findings suggest that placement in out-of-home care leads to greater safety. But continued vigilance about children’s safety is still needed, particularly for older adolescents and youth in group homes and residential treatment.


Oct 2019 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Aide Hernandez, Steve Tran, and Ted Cross

Children placed in out-of-home care because of abuse or neglect often have cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and health problems that can make it difficult to succeed at school. But we have limited data on the educational well-being of Illinois children in out-of-home care through the Department of Children and Family Services. This brief presents findings on education from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study. The study conducted interviews with caseworker, caregivers and children themselves to assess the well-being of a sample of 700 children in out-of-home care in the state. Most children and youth were was performing adequately or better in school, but many children faced obstacles to school success. The brief presents an overview of results and discusses the need for increased efforts to help children in out-of-home care with their education.


Sep 2019 / Report / Simulation Training Evaluation    
Yu-Ling Chiu and Theodore P. Cross

The FY2019 evaluation report of CPTA's simulation training included the following sections: 1) description of CPTA's updated training model; 2) daily experience of simulation training (DEST) that measured trainees’ daily changes in confidence on thirteen child protection work skills over the course of the simulation training week; 3) post-training satisfaction survey regarding trainees’ experience of the certificate training ; 4) simulation training and investigator turnover using DCFS employment data. The findings show that the positive results over three years of the program evaluation support the value of CPTA and suggest the potential of its current expansion. It is encouraging that investigators hired since February 2016 are staying on the job longer than investigators hired prior to that date. Data can be used both to advocate for the value of CPTA and to inform efforts at program improvement.


Aug 2019 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Tamara L. Fuller, Satomi Wakita, Yu-Ling Chiu, Martin Nieto, and Laura Lee

CERAP procedures specify when a safety assessment is supposed to be completed during investigations, prevention services cases, intact family service cases, and placement cases. Recent CERAP evaluations have focused on caseworker completion at each of the milestones for intact family cases, with the exception of milestone three, which specifies that the a safety assessment should be completed “whenever evidence or circumstances suggest that a child’s safety may be in jeopardy.” The FY2019 CERAP evaluation focused on CERAP safety assessments that were completed for this milestone three among intact family cases that were opened during 2014-2018. The main findings revealed that between 8-10% of the intact family cases opened each year had a CERAP completed for this milestone (MS3). When a MS3 CERAP was completed, about 36% did not have any safety threats identified, about 40-45% had one safety threat identified, and 16-17% had two safety threats identified. Additional analyses are included in the report.


Aug 2019 / Presentation / Simulation Training Evaluation    
Yu-Ling Chiu, Theodore P. Cross, Betsy P. Goulet, Susan Oppegard Evans, and Monico Whittington-Eskridge

The CFRC evaluation team collaborated with the CPTA at the University of Illinois Springfield and the DCFS Office of Learning & Professional Development on a presentation at the 2019 National Child Welfare Evaluation Summit on August 20th. The presentation included discussion of the CPTA simulation training model, the main evaluation findings between 2017 and 2019, and the simulation training expansion at the Chicago site.


Jun 2019 / Report / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Ted Cross, Steve Tran, Aide Hernandez, and Emily Rhodes

The 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study provides a snapshot of the well-being of children and youth in out-of-home care in Illinois in 2017. The Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) drew a stratified random sample of 700 children and youth from the population of children and youth in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in October 2017. The Survey Research Laboratory of the University of Illinois at Chicago conducted interviews with caseworkers, foster care providers, and children age seven and older between December 2017 and July 2018. Interviews included questions developed for the study as well as a number of standardized scales measuring child functioning and well-being.

The report documents the progress many children and youth are making, but also the disproportionate number of children who lag in development, deal with physical and behavioral health challenges, struggle in school, or face threats to their safety. The well-being data can be used to advocate for children’s needs, inform the development of DCFS policy and practice, and guide in-depth well-being research.


Jun 2019 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring    
Martin Nieto, Satomi Wakita, Tamara Fuller, and Shufen Wang

In 2017, media attention in Illinois focused on a perceived increase in the number of child deaths following the “privatization” of Intact Family Services (IFS), meaning that cases were being served by private child welfare agencies through contractual relationships with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) rather than through DCFS itself. Following a request by the B.H. Expert Panel, the CFRC conducted an independent analysis to examine if the privatization of intact family services (IFS) was associated with an increase in child deaths due to maltreatment. The results suggest that Intact Family Services have been provided by both DCFS and private child welfare agencies since 2000, and that complete privatization of IFS did not occur, even after 2014. In addition, when all maltreatment reports involving child deaths are examined, only a small percentage (between 10-15%) have been involved with IFS within the past year or at the time of the reported death. When the child deaths that were involved with IFS were examined, there were no differences in the risk of either investigated child deaths or indicated child deaths among children served by DCFS and those served by private child welfare agencies.


May 2019 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring    
CFRC

Child welfare systems across the nation share the concern that children from some racial minority groups may be disproportionately represented in the child welfare system compared to their representation in the general population. One of the goals in the Department’s Child Welfare Transformation Strategic Plan is to track racial equity at critical decision points to help inform planning and decision making. With special concerns about children age 0 to 5, the Children and Family Research Center per a request from Illinois DCFS prepared this report by examining racial disproportionality specifically for this population in the Illinois child welfare system at critical decision points during 2012-2018.


Apr 2019 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Forensic Medical Results and Law Enforcement Actions Following Sexual Assault: A Comparison of Child, Adolescent and Adult CasesWEB
Ted Cross and Thaddeus Schmitt

In sexual assault cases, little research has examined differences in forensic medical findings and law enforcement response by victim age across the entire age range. This study addressed this gap by comparing four victim age groups: adults, adolescents over the age of consent, adolescents under the age of consent, and children under 12. Cases were randomly sampled from a statewide database of medical reports on sexual assault examinations conducted in hospital emergency departments, including only cases reported to law enforcement.

Cross, T. & Schmitt, T. (2019). Forensic medical results and law enforcement Actions following sexual assault: a comparison of child, adolescent and adult cases. Child Abuse & Neglect, 93, 103-110

Apr 2019 / Presentation / Simulation Training Evaluation    
Betsy Goulet, Theodore Cross, Yu-Ling Chiu

Presentation at the One Loud Voice Conference in Biloxi Mississippi, April 16, 2019


Mar 2019 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Ted Cross and Megan Alderden

Presented in Urbana at the Carle Hospital SANE Seminar, March 11, 2019.


Jan 2019 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Wendy Walsh, Ted Cross, and Kaitlin Lounsbury

Presented at the 34th Annual San Diego International Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment, January 29, 2019.


Jan 2019 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Ted Cross and Wendy Walsh

Presented at the 34th Annual San Diego International Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment, January 29, 2019.


Jan 2019 / Presentation / Simulation Training Evaluation    
Yu-Ling Chiu, Theodore Cross, Betsy Goulet, Susan Oppegard Evans, Monico Whittington-Eskridge, and Amy Wheeler

The investigator survey results in the second year evaluation of the Child Protection Training Academy’s Simulation Program were presented on January 20th, 2019 at the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) Annual Conference in San Francisco.


Jan 2019 / Journal Publication    
Families’ Experience of Pediatric Onset Multiple SclerosisWEB
Ted Cross, Alane Shanks, Lisa Duffy, and David Rintell

This study interviewed parents to understand families’ experience with pediatric onset multiple sclerosis (POMS), which make up 2.7% to 10.5% of all MS cases. 21 sets of parents of children with a confirmed diagnosis of POMS were recruited from two pediatric MS centers. Families experienced stress from the uncertainty prior to diagnosis, anxiety over symptoms and possible progression of the disease, frustrations with the uncertain effects of disease-modifying treatments (DMTs), and difficulties with injections. Families had to cope with cognitive and physical effects of POMS at school, decisions about expectations and independence for the child, and extra demands POMS placed on the family. Most parents reported benefitting from support from physicians, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the MS community. Families had benefitted from DMTs, and, despite the stresses, most had adapted successfully to the illness. Advice from interviewees to other parents and recommendations for improving family support are presented.

Cross, T., Shanks, A., Duffy, L., & Rintell, D. (2019). Families’ experience of pediatric onset multiple sclerosis. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, https://doi.org/10.1007/s40653-018-0243-7.

Nov 2018 / Presentation / Outcomes Monitoring    
Tamara Fuller, Steve Tran, Yu-Ling Chiu, and Michael Braun

The highlights of each chapter from the FY2018 Monitoring Report of the B.H. Consent Decree.


Nov 2018 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring    
Tamara Fuller, Yu-Ling Chiu, Michael Braun, Martin Nieto, and Kyle Adams

Child welfare systems across the nation share the concern that children from some racial minority groups may be disproportionately represented in the child welfare system compared to their representation in the general population.One of the goals in the Department’s Child Welfare Transformation Strategic Plan is to track racial equity and disparity at critical decision points to help inform planning and decision making.This report provides information relevant to that goal by examining racial disproportionality and disparity in the Illinois child welfare system at five critical decision points over the past seven years.


Nov 2018 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Laura Siller, Ted Cross, and Megan Alderden

Presented November, 2018 at the American Society of Criminology Meeting in Atlanta.


Nov 2018 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Ted Cross, Thaddeus Schmitt, and Megan Alderden

Presented November, 2018 at the American Society of Criminology Meeting in Atlanta.


Oct 2018 / Report / Simulation Training Evaluation    
Ted Cross and Yu-Ling Chiu

The current report presents results from program evaluation activities conducted in FY2018. We used interviews and focus groups to explore the processes through which CPTA has an impact. In addition, we assessed the impact of CPTA on the experience of working DCFS investigators. We surveyed DCFS investigators and compared those investigators who have received simulation training with a group of investigators who had not received simulation training.


Oct 2018 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring    
Tamara Fuller, Martin Nieto, Satomi Wakita, Shufen Wang, Kyle Adams, Steve Tran, Yu-Ling Chiu, and Michael Braun

Since its inception in 1996, the Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) has produced an annual report that monitors the performance of the Illinois child welfare system in achieving its stated goals of child safety, permanency, and well-being. This year’s report contains several major changes that makes the results non-comparable to those in previous reports. The data source was switched from the Chapin Hall Integrated Database (IDB) to data contained in the DCFS data warehouse (Legacy Golden Copy/LGC). At the Department’s request, the Round 3 CFSR statewide data indicators were added to the report. The FY2018 monitoring report uses child welfare administrative data through March 2018 to describe the conditions of children in or at risk of foster care in Illinois. Following an introductory chapter, the results are presented in three chapters that examine critical child welfare outcomes of child safety, continuity and stability in care, and legal permanence.


Aug 2018 / Research Brief / Safety and Risk    
Yu-Ling Chiu and Tamara L. Fuller

The Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP) is a safety assessment protocol used in child protection investigations and child welfare services in Illinois. It is designed to provide workers with a mechanism for quickly assessing the potential for moderate to severe harm to a child in the immediate or near future and for taking quick action to protect children. Workers utilize the protocol at specified time frames throughout the life of a case, from child protection investigation to substitute care exit, to help focus their decision-making to determine whether a child is safe or unsafe with their family, and if unsafe, decide what actions must be taken to assure the child’s safety. This brief provides an overview of the CERAP, including its historical background and the specific procedures required to complete the assessments.


Aug 2018 / Research Brief / Safety and Risk    
Tamara L. Fuller, Yu-Ling Chiu, Satomi Wakita, and Martin Nieto

The Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP) is a safety assessment protocol used in child protection investigations and child welfare service cases in Illinois. It is designed to provide workers with a mechanism for quickly assessing the potential for moderate to severe harm to a child in the immediate or near future and for taking quick action to protect children. Workers utilize the protocol at specified time frames, referred to as “milestones,” throughout the life of a case to help focus their decision-making to determine whether a child is safe or unsafe with their family, and if unsafe, decide what actions must be taken to assure the child’s safety. In FY2018, due to increased scrutiny of the safety of children served in intact family cases, the CFRC completed an analysis of caseworker compliance with safety assessment procedures among intact family cases. This research brief describes the major findings of the FY2018 CERAP annual evaluation.


Aug 2018 / Research Brief / Safety and Risk    
Steve Tran and Tamara Fuller

This research brief, the second in a series that highlights the important work of the Illinois Child Death Review Teams (CDRTs) in Illinois, highlights the findings from the most recent CDRT annual report on child deaths that occurred in Illinois in 2016, which is written by the CFRC. The brief presents summary information about child deaths in Illinois by age, manner of death, and category of death, as well as examples of CDRT recommendations to prevent child deaths.


Aug 2018 / Research Brief / Safety and Risk    
Tamara Fuller and Steve Tran

This research brief, the third in a series that highlights the important work of the CDRTs in Illinois, uses data from the annual CDRT reports to examine trends in child deaths over the past decade. The brief describes trends in total child deaths and trends in the number of deaths by child age, manner of death, and category and death.


Aug 2018 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Tamara Fuller, Satomi Wakita, Martin Nieto, and Yu-Ling Chiu

The current report examined CERAP completion by caseworkers during an intact family case between FY2014 and FY2017. Using the most stringent criteria, meaning that the caseworker not only completed a CERAP safety assessment but also checked the correct milestone, completion rates varied substantially for the different intact family case milestones: 1) between 67% and 76% of intact family cases each year had a CERAP assessment within 15 days of case opening, and the percentage has been increasing over time. 2) between 17-18% of intact family cases had a CERAP completed every 90 days during the time that the case was open. 3) between 56% and 65% of the intact family cases with an unsafe safety decision had another CERAP completed within 5 working days, and the percentage has been increasing over time. 4) between 64% and 71% of intact family cases had a CERAP completed within 30 days prior to the case close date or within 5 days after it, and the percentage has been increasing over time.


Jun 2018 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Megan Alderden, Theodore Cross, Maja Vlajnic, and Laura Siller

Little prior research has explored how prosecutors perceive and utilize biological and injury evidences in sexual assault cases. In this qualitative study, semistructured interviews were conducted with assistant district attorneys (ADAs) working in an urban district attorney’s office in the northeastern United States. ADAs were asked to describe how biological and injury evidences could be probative and their strategies for using this evidence. The interviews suggest that prosecutors perceive the probative value of biological and injury evidences on a continuum, varying based on case characteristics. Prosecutors felt that undergoing a forensic medical examination in itself supported victims’ credibility. Biological evidence bolstered victims’ credibility if it matched the victim’s account better than the defendant’s. They perceived DNA evidence as helpful when it identified unknown suspects, confirmed identification of suspects by other means, or rebutted defendants’ denial of sexual contact. DNA evidence was also helpful when victims were incapacitated, too traumatized to recall or talk about the assault, or too young to identify assailants, and when police used the information in interrogating suspects. The biggest limitation to biological evidence prosecutors cited was overcoming the consent defense. The ADAs reported they used DNA evidence even when it was not particularly probative, because it confirms the correct person is being prosecuted, it communicates the victim’s and prosecution’s seriousness, and it meets jury expectations in trials. Prosecutors found injury evidence useful because it corroborated victims’ accounts and helped refute defendant claims of consensual sex. The findings may assist in educating others about biological and injury evidences in these cases, and could inspire professionals and advocates to work to develop and support a broad range of investigative methods.

Alderden, M., Cross, T., Vlajnic, M., & Siller, L. (2018). Prosecutors’ perspectives on biological evidence and injury evidence in sexual assault cases. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 1–23

Apr 2018 / Journal Publication    
How Often and in What Circumstances Does Law Enforcement Investigate in Child Protection Cases?WEB
Theodore Cross, Emmeline Chuang, Jesse Helton, Seth Boughton, and Emily Lux

Few disagree that child maltreatment can sometimes be a crime; for example, with most sexual offenses or when physical abuse or serious neglect leads to major child injury or death. Yet we would probably not want the police involved when child protective services (CPS) contacts a family because of reports that children were hungry and ill-clothed at school, or in similar cases. Professional publications have disagreed about the value of a criminal justice response versus a purely therapeutic or family court approach to child maltreatment (Harshbarger, 1987; Levesque, 1995; Newberger, 1987; Peters, Dinsmore, & Toth, 1989). But we know little about how often police investigate in CPS cases and in what circumstances.

Cross, T., Chuang, E., Helton, J., Boughton, S., & Lux, E. (2018). How often and in what circumstances does law enforcement investigate in child protection cases? Child Welfare 360 Degrees, Spring 2018.

Mar 2018 / Presentation / Outcomes Monitoring, Safety and Risk, Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
10 Things Early Interventionists Need To Know About The Child Welfare SystemWEB
Catherine Corr, Michael T. Braun, and Steve Tran

In March 2018, CFRC researchers Michael T. Braun and Steve Tran partnered with University of Illinois Special Education assistant professor Catherine Corr to present a webinar for the Early Intervention Training Program at the University of Illinois. The webinar, titled 10 Things Early Interventionists Need To Know About The Child Welfare System, focused on demystifying the child welfare system for early interventionists and service providers. Topics included an overview of the child welfare system, the process of making a hotline call, ways to support families who have experienced past trauma, and how early interventionists can work with child welfare workers to support children and families.


Feb 2018 / Journal Publication    
Food Neglect and Infant DevelopmentWEB
Jesse Helton, Theodore Cross, Michael Vaughn, and Tatiana Gochez‐Kerr

The impact of food insecurity on child development in the general U.S. population is well-established, yet little is known about the harm of food neglect relative to other types of maltreatment. Due to the harmful physiological impact of inadequate nutrients and the social impact of food-related stress, it was hypothesized that food neglect would be more likely to impair infant cognitive and language development than physical abuse, sexual abuse, and other forms of neglect. Families of infants (N = 1,951) investigated by Child Protective Services were studied using the second cohort of the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW II; NSCAW Research Group, 2002). Results from multivariable logistic regression models that controlled for likely confounding variables showed that the odds of impairment in cognition and language were significantly greater when food neglect was the most serious form of maltreatment. Considering that both food insecurity and child neglect are associated with poverty and parental mental health problems, it will be important for child welfare and mental health professionals to work collaboratively to better the health of these vulnerable children.

Helton, J., Cross, T., Vaughn, M., & Gochez‐Kerr, T. (2018). Food neglect and infant development. Infant Mental Health Journal, 39(2), 231-241.

Feb 2018 / Research Brief / Simulation Training Evaluation  
Yu-Ling Chiu and Ted Cross

Since 2016, the Child Protection Training Academy (CPTA) at the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS) has collaborated with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to implement the Child Protection Training Academy, which adds an innovative experiential component to the training of new DCFS investigators. This brief reports results of a preliminary program evaluation that the Children and Family Research Center has conducted of the program. We describe what simulation training is, why it could be valuable, what simulation training has been implemented, and what the preliminary data on its implementation and impact suggests about its value for enhancing worker preparation to serve children and families.


Jan 2018 / Report / Safety and Risk, Simulation Training Evaluation    
Ted Cross, Gail Tittle, and Yu-Ling Chiu

Investigating child abuse and neglect is a difficult job and investigators need all the preparation they can get. Given the demands of working with families in child protections, transferring theory to practice is particularly essential. Ideally, the initial training that new child protection workers receive should give them opportunities to practice the skills they need such as engaging families and assessment and critical thinking skills for protecting child safety. The Child Protection Training Academy at the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS) has collaborated with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to add an innovative experiential component to the training of new DCFS investigators. All new investigators come to Child Protection Training Academy at UIS for a week at the end of their initial training to participate in simulations of real life situations that every DCFS investigator encounters. This program evaluation is consistent with the formative state of knowledge in the field and the fact that the Child Protection Training Academy is in a comparatively early stage of development. At this early stage, the program evaluation has focused on gathering data to describe the program’s objectives, methods and training theory, and examining trainees’ and other stakeholders perception of the impact of the simulation training. The goal is to inform program development and improvement, provide evidence of the program’s immediate impact on trainees, and help prepare for more rigorous program evaluation of the CPTA’s simulation training in the future.


Dec 2017 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring  
Tamara Fuller, Martin Nieto, Satomi Wakita, Shufen Wang, Kyle Adams, Saijun Zhang, Yu-Ling Chiu, and Michael Braun

This annual report provides information on the performance of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services with regard to the outcomes for children who are in or at risk of substitute care. This monitoring report, required as part of the B.H. Consent Decree, examines measures of child safety, family and placement stability, continuity, and permanence. In addition, this year's report adds a fourth chapter that examines racial disproportionality and disparity in the Illinois child welfare system.


Dec 2017 / Research Brief / Outcomes Monitoring, Safety and Risk, Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Children and Family Research Center

The Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) produces the annual monitoring report of the B.H. Consent Decree, which tracks the performance of the Illinois child welfare system in achieving its stated goals of child safety, permanency, and well-being for children in or at risk of entering foster care. The full report, available on the CFRC website, contains information about Illinois performance on more than 40 measures over the past seven years. This brief highlights five key findings from the latest report, which tracks performance through the end of FY2016.


Nov 2017 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Wendy Walsh and Ted Cross

Ted Cross of CFRC is leading a research team conducting a program evaluation of the National TeleNursing Center, a pilot project funded by the federal Office for Victims of Crime that uses telemedicine to support clinicians doing forensic medical examinations following sexual assault. Experienced Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) are linked by video technology to nurses in underserved communities who lack the training and experience to do effective exams. SANEs participate virtually in the examination to guide clinicians to provide quality medical care while also collecting biological evidence that may help identify and prosecute the offender. Drs. Cross and Walsh presented interim results gathered from interviews with the teleSANEs and the clinicians they support. This was a presentation at the conference of the International Association of Forensic Nurses in Toronto in October 2017 and was reprised in November 2017 at the New England Rural Health Conference in Bartlett, NH.


Nov 2017 / Journal Publication / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Psychology and Child Protection: Promoting Widespread Improvement in Practice
Ted Cross and Irit Herskowitz

CFRC's Ted Cross, a clinical psychologist by training collaborated with Dr. irit Hershkowitz of the University of Haifa to explore the contribution of psychology to child protection. This article reviews this contribution and suggests opportunities for psychology to contribute more, choosing 3 selected areas: (a) interviewing children to assess child maltreatment, (b) the well-being of children involved with the child protection system, and (c) evidence-based practices to ameliorate the effects of child maltreatment among children involved with the child protection system. Across these areas, psychology has contributed both to the knowledge base and to available assessment and intervention methods. However, in each area, the effect on usual child protection practice has been limited. Psychology has an opportunity to broaden its contribution through research and systems intervention aimed at extending gains in these areas throughoutthe child protection field.

Cross, T. P., & Hershkowitz, I. (2017). Psychology and child protection: Promoting widespread improvement in practice. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 4, 503-518.

Nov 2017 / Research Brief / Outcomes Monitoring, Safety and Risk, Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Michael T. Braun and Yu-Ling Chiu

Disproportionality in the child welfare system refers to the over- or underrepresentation of a group involved with the system compared to that group’s representation in a base population (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2016). This research brief defines racial disproportionality in the child welfare system, including how it is measured and how disproportionality rates should be interpreted. It is the first brief in a series exploring disproportionality in the child welfare system.


Nov 2017 / Research Brief / Outcomes Monitoring, Safety and Risk, Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Michael T. Braun and Yu-Ling Chiu

Disproportionality in the child welfare system refers to the over- or underrepresentation of a group (usually a racial/ethnic group) compared to that group’s representation in a base population. This research brief explores rates of racial disproportionality in the Illinois child welfare system. It is the second brief in a series exploring disproportionality.


Nov 2017 / Presentation / Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations    
Michael T. Braun and Satomi Wakita

Cost analysis is an important consideration when deciding whether a new program or practice is sustainable. This presentation explores practical considerations of conducting cost analyses to help produce meaningful results that are useful to decision-makers and stakeholders. It was originally presented at the third annual Continuous Quality Improvement conference in Champaign, IL.


Nov 2017 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Alex Wagner, Ted Cross, Rosa Mazzeo and Dan Bibel

This presentation at the annual American Society of Criminology meeting reports final results on a study of the quality of data on arrests in the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). NIBRS is one of the prime sources for research on arrests in the United States, but this study of data on four crimes suggests that NIBRS may be undercounting arrests, particularly for sexual assault cases. This an update of a May 2017 presentation (i.e., Bibel, et al., The Importance of the Quality of Arrest Data in NIBRS) also listed in CFRC’s publication webpages. These findings suggest ways to improve the recording of arrest data that may increase the accuracy of crime data and research on arrests.


Oct 2017 / Presentation / Differential Response  
Michael T. Braun, Yu-Ling Chiu, Stacy Lake, Tamara Fuller, and Julie Murphy

Child welfare agencies that adopt evidence-supported interventions (ESIs) such as Differential Response (DR) may use concepts from implementation science to guide translation of ESIs into worker practice. The success of these efforts depends in part on worker support for the intervention. This presentation explores the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) staged rollout of DR and associated staff support for the program. It includes description of Oregon’s efforts to build support for DR, as well as quantitative and qualitative data collected from the Children and Family Research Center’s evaluation of Oregon’s DR implementation. The presentation aims to expand our understanding of the factors that promote or inhibit individual-level acceptance of an organizational-level effort to implement DR, and how worker attitudes affect practice change.


Oct 2017 / Presentation / Simulation Training Evaluation    
Ted Cross, Betsy Goulet, Susan Evans, Gail Tittle, and Yu-Ling Chiu

Given the demands of investigating child abuse and neglect, transferring knowledge gained in training into practice to bolster child protection investigators’ skills and confidence is essential. Yet studies of transfer of learning across different domains of employment have shown that only 10 to 15% of training content is transferred to the workplace. Simulation Training Laboratories at the University of Illinois at Springfield is helping to change that with an experiential training program it provides to all new child protection investigators hired by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). New investigators are trained at a Residential Simulation Laboratory in a mock house designed to simulate a family environment and a Courtroom Simulation Laboratory designed to resemble family court. This Children and Family Research Center is conducting the program evaluation of simulation training. This presentation at an international conference gives a brief overview of the program and presents initial program evaluation results.


Oct 2017 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Tamara Fuller and Yu-Ling Chiu

The results of the previous evaluations indicated that rates of CERAP completion at the two milestones immediately before and after reunification were lower than expected. The low compliance with required safety practice raised questions about how judges, attorneys, and placement workers use the information contained within the CERAP to inform their recommendations and decisions about whether to return a child home from substitute care. To gather this information, CFRC designed and administered surveys to juvenile court attorneys and child welfare placement workers; 185 placement workers and 20 attorneys completed the surveys. The results of the surveys indicate that the CERAP is rarely included in the court reports that are shared with attorneys prior to making decisions regarding returning a child home. Additionally, placement workers had mixed views regarding the usefulness of the CERAP for informing decision-making about returning a child home from substitute care: 45% felt that the CERAP was very important, 37% felt that it was somewhat important, and 18% felt that it was not at all important. Responses to the open-ended questions revealed that many placement workers felt that the information included in the CERAP was redundant with information available in other documents they completed at reunification, which may explain why the CERAP is not completed by about a third of the workers either before or after reunification.


Oct 2017 / Presentation / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System  
John Fluke, Nico Trocme, Jesse Helton, Theodore Cross, Barbara Fallon & Kate Schumaker

This presentation reports results of collaboration between Canadian and American researchers to explore a new method of classifying child maltreatment cases that holds promise for improving child welfare services. Canadian researchers have previously classified child maltreatment cases into two categories: urgent cases characterized by acute harm include cases of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect of very young children, and chroniccases in which harm is thought to develop over the long-term through exposure to neglect, emotional maltreatment, and less severe forms of physical abuse. The urgent vs. chronic distinction has predicted important outcomes in Canadian data, and has important implications for providing a child protection response tailored to children’s needs. The research reported in this presentation applied the urgent vs. chronic classification to the American child welfare system for the first time. The analysis classified cases with American children into the urgent and chronic categories, using data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, a national probability study of children involved in child protection investigations. One-fifth of American cases were classified as urgent, very similar to the 24% found in a Canadian sample. Urgent cases were more likely to be substantiated and lead to out-of-home placements. Chronic cases, on the other hand, were more likely to include children with special needs. The research provides preliminary evidence that the urgent-chronic dichotomy may apply to North American cases generally and suggests the value of further research on this distinction.


Jun 2017 / Report / Differential Response    
Tamara Fuller, Michael T. Braun, Yu-ling Chiu, Theodore P. Cross, Martin Nieto, Gail Tittle, and Satomi Wakita

Following a lengthy and thorough exploration and planning process, the Oregon Department of Human Services began implementing Differential Response (DR) in May 2014 as part of a broader reform effort aimed at safely and equitably reducing the number of children in foster care and more effectively addressing the needs of families being referred to Child Protective Services (CPS) for neglect. Through the implementation of DR, DHS hoped to enhance the partnerships between families reported for abuse and neglect, DHS staff, and community partners; increase the number of children who remain safely at home with their families; and reduce the disproportionate representation of children of color in the child welfare system. DHS hired the Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to design and conduct a rigorous and comprehensive evaluation that would accomplish multiple goals, including carefully documenting the DR implementation process, examining the DR model that was being practiced in the districts, testing DHS workers’ fidelity to the Oregon Safety Model (OSM), comparing the outcomes of children and families involved in DR assessments with those who received traditional CPS assessments, and examining the costs associated with practicing DR. This Oregon Differential Response Final Evaluation Report contains thorough descriptions of the methodologies used and the results of the evaluation components, including the implementation, process, outcome, and cost evaluations.


Jun 2017 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Theodore Cross, Wendy Walsh

Research has made significant contributions to the development of the CAC model, but much remains to be learned and stronger empirical support is needed to develop the model further. This workshop first reviews CAC research to date, including an assessment of previous published CAC research reviews. The workshop then discusses significant research gaps in areas such as criminal investigation and prosecution, victim advocacy, service delivery and MDT functioning. The workshop concludes by discussing steps for moving CAC research forward, and reviews the development of a new NCA Research Advisory Committee formed in 2016.


Jun 2017 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault, Simulation Training Evaluation    
Cross, T., Goulet, B., Evans, S. & Tittle, G.

The Child Protection Training Academy at the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS) is collaborating with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to add an innovative experiential component to the training of new DCFS investigators. The program supplements the classroom-based Foundations Training that every new investigator receives with experiential training days in a Residential Simulation Laboratory and a Courtroom Simulation Laboratory. The Children and Family Research at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is conducting the program evaluation for simulation training. This presentation describes the program, discusses its first year of development, and presents preliminary program evaluation results.


May 2017 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Daniel Bibel, Alex Wagner, Theodore Cross, Rosa Mazzeo

This presentation explores the quality of data on arrests in the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). Hundreds of police departments across the United States contribute data on crime incidents to the NIBRS system, which is one of the chief tools nationally for monitoring and researching crime. Over one quarter of studies published using NIBRS focus on arrest issues, but recent research suggests reasons to be concerned about the reliability of arrest data in NIBRS. Ted Cross of the CFRC led a research team studying the quality of NIBRS arrest data. NIBRS arrest data were compared to data from local law enforcement agencies for a sample of 348 crime incidents that occurred in Massachusetts between 2011 and 2013. The sample focused on four crimes: sexual assault, simple assault, aggravated assault, and intimidation. A preliminary analysis suggests that NIBRS may “undercount” arrests, since 24.9% of incidents that should have been counted as arrests in NIBRS were not recorded as arrests in NIBRS data files. Additional analysis not reported in this presentation suggest two reasons for this: 1) law enforcement agencies do not always update NIBRS data files if an arrest was made after initial data were entered, and 2) contrary to instructions in the NIBRS manual, law enforcement agencies did not always record one method of apprehending suspects (issuing a summons) as an arrest. These findings have implications for crime data specialist entering NIBRS data and for researchers using NIBRS data files. A final analysis of these data will be conducted in the summer of 2017.


Apr 2017 / Report / Differential Response, Safety and Risk  
Michael T. Braun and Yu-Ling Chiu

The Oregon Safety Model (OSM) is a safety assessment practice model that was developed and implemented by the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) in collaboration with the National Resource Center for Child Protective Services (NRCCPS) in 2007. In 2013, DHS collaborated with NRCCPS to implement an OSM “refresh” initiative aimed toward enhancing understanding and practice application of the OSM. As part of the evaluation of Oregon’s implementation of Differential Response (DR), the Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) was asked to provide an updated assessment of staff fidelity to the OSM. Fidelity assessments are designed to examine if a program or intervention is delivered or implemented as designed. CFRC relied on the procedure manual to develop the fidelity indicators used in the fidelity assessment. This OSM Fidelity Report contains thorough description of methods and results.


Apr 2017 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Yu-ling Chiu, Martin Nieto and Tamara Fuller

The Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP) is a safety assessment protocol used in child protection investigations and child welfare case in Illinois. This “life-of- the case” protocol is designed to provide staff with a mechanism for quickly assessing the potential for moderate to severe harm to children in the immediate or near future and for taking quick action to protect them. Staff utilize the protocol at specified milestones throughout an investigation or child welfare case to help them determine whether a child is safe or unsafe, and if unsafe, decide what actions must be taken to assure their safety. When immediate risk to a child’s safety is identified, the protocol requires that action be taken, such as the implementation of a safety plan or protective custody.


Apr 2017 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Ted Cross

A presentation by Dr. Ted Cross from the eighth annual Conference of Upstate Child Advocacy Studies held on March 31, 2017.


Apr 2017 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Theodore P. Cross and Debra Whitcomb

Despite efforts by advocates, practitioners, and legislators to alleviate the burden on child maltreatment victims in the criminal justice system, many challenges remain for prosecutors as they seek to hold offenders accountable while minimizing the emotional impact on children. More than 200 state and local prosecutors in 37 states responded to an online survey to share their perspectives on current challenges, procedures to support children in the adjudication process, and the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court opinion in Crawford v. Washington (2004), sex offender registries, and "Safe Harbor" legislation to protect child sexual exploitation victims. Respondents' most pressing challenges were obtaining evidence to corroborate children's statements and the difficulties of working with child victims. Child testimony was ranked as more frequent than any other type of evidence, and least frequent were DNA, photos or videos of criminal acts, and other physical evidence. Prosecutors rely primarily on victim/witness assistants and courtroom tours to prepare children for testimony; technological alternatives are seldom used. Results suggest a real but limited impact of the Crawford opinion on the need for child testimony and on the decision to prosecute. Survey findings indicate a need for greater attention to thorough investigations with particular attention to corroboration. Doing so may strengthen the child's credibility, which is especially critical in cases lacking physical or medical evidence of maltreatment.

Cross, T.P & Whitcomb, D. (2017). The practice of prosecuting child maltreatment: Results of an online survey of prosecutors. Child Abuse & Neglect. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.04.007

Jan 2017 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring    
Tamara Fuller, Martin Nieto, Xinrong Lei, Satomi Wakita, Saijun Zhang, Yu-Ling Chiu, Michael Braun, Theodore P. Cross

This annual report provides information on the performance of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services with regard to the outcomes for children who are in or at risk of substitute care. This monitoring report, required as part of the B.H. Consent Decree, examines measures of child safety, family and placement stability, continuity, and permanence. Detailed break-downs of each indicator by child gender, race, age, and geographic region are provided in the appendix.


Jan 2017 / Research Brief / Outcomes Monitoring    
CFRC

This research brief describes highlights from the most recent monitoring report of the B.H. Consent Decree. Highlights include details on the use of emergency shelters, a look at the increase in maltreatment of children in care, and a comparison of runaway rates in Cook County and statewide.


Dec 2016 / Report / Differential Response    
Tamara Fuller, Michael T. Braun, Yu-ling Chiu, Theodore P. Cross, Martin Nieto, Gail Tittle, and Satomi Wakita

The Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) began implementing Differential Response (DR) in 2014, using a carefully planned and staged roll-out strategy that began with implementation in two districts (D5 and D11) in May 2014 and two additional districts (D4 and D16) in April 2015. The Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) conducted comprehensive process, outcome, and cost evaluations in order to answer a lengthy series of research questions related to the DR implementation process, CPS practice throughout the state, fidelity to the DR model, fidelity to the Oregon Safety Model (OSM), and the impact of DR on a variety of child, family, and child welfare system outcomes, including costs. This report describes the findings of the process and outcome evaluations as of December 2016, including chapters on CPS practice in DR and non-DR districts, fidelity to the DR model, and preliminary comparisons of the short-term and intermediate outcomes experienced by families in the two treatment groups (AR and TR) with matched comparison families in non-DR districts.


Oct 2016 / Report / Differential Response    
Tamara Fuller, Michael T. Braun, Yu-ling Chiu, Theodore P. Cross, Martin Nieto, Gail Tittle, and Satomi Wakita

As part of the larger evaluation of Differential Response (DR) in Oregon, the CFRC conducted a statewide survey of Oregon DHS staff in February-March, 2016. The staff survey was designed to assess staff attitudes and practices related to DR and the Oregon Safety Model (OSM). The survey included measures of training and coaching effectiveness, supervisory support, job satisfaction, organizational culture, CPS practices, attitudes about DR, the OSM, and the Family Strengths and Needs Assessment (FSNA), service availability, and service coordination. The results of the survey were described for the state as a whole, and comparisons were made between districts that had and had not implemented DR.


Jun 2016 / Research Brief    
Theodore P. Cross, Betsy Goulet, Jesse J. Helton, Emily Lux, Tamara Fuller, and Michael T. Braun

All 50 states have systems for reporting suspected abuse and neglect to child protective services (CPS), and reports are made on thousands of children every year. Outcomes of reporting vary widely, ranging from screening out with no further action at one end to out-of-home placement at the other. Someone making a report to CPS might naturally wonder: What are the chances the child will be visited by child protective services workers, offered services, or even removed from his or her home? But there has been little systematic analysis of the outcomes of reporting to CPS. This brief, adapted from the authors’ chapter in a book on child maltreatment reporting, helps answer these questions using published results and new data analysis from two national data sets on children involved in reports to CPS.


May 2016 / Research Brief / Safety and Risk    
Tamara Fuller, Michael T. Braun, and Saijun Zhang

This research brief, the first in a series that highlights the important work of the Illinois Child Death Review Teams (CDRTs), provides an introduction to child death review in Illinois. The brief discusses the circumstances in which the CDRTs will review a child’s death, the review process, and the impact of child death reviews.


May 2016 / Research Brief / Safety and Risk    
Saijun Zhang, Tamara Fuller, and Michael T. Braun

This research brief, the second in a series that highlights the important work of the Illinois Child Death Review Teams (CDRTs), highlights key findings from the most recent CDRT annual report, which is written by the CFRC. It presents summary information about child deaths in Illinois examined by demographic characteristics such as age and race, as well as by manner and category of death.


May 2016 / Research Brief / Safety and Risk    
Tamara Fuller, Michael T. Braun, and Saijun Zhang

This research brief, the third in a series that highlights the important work of the Illinois Child Death Review Teams (CDRTs), uses historical data to describe trends in child deaths in Illinois from 2004 to 2013. The brief describes trends in total child deaths and trends in the number of deaths by child age, race, manner of death, and category of death.


May 2016 / Report    
Ted Cross, Alane Shanks, Lisa Duffy, Mark Gorman, Susana Camposano, Tanuja Chitnis, David Rintell

This report presents findings from a study of families with a child who has pediatric multiple sclerosis (MS). Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system that impairs communication within the brain and between the brain and body, leading to a range of unpredictable and often disabling symptoms. Once thought to affect adults exclusively, pediatric-onset MS has increasingly been diagnosed in recent years. MS can cause children considerable pain and distress and impair their movement, vision, speech, and thinking. It can be extraordinarily stressful for children and their families, and cause considerable stress as children adapt to the effect of MS on learning, functioning at school, peer relationships and life in the family. Parents of children with MS were interviewed to assess the impact of the disease on the child and family, to understand families’ experience with the health care system, and to profile the ways that children and families cope. The families affected by pediatric multiple sclerosis whom we interviewed face significant challenges, but in the course of meeting these challenges, have demonstrated notable resilience.


Apr 2016 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Ted Cross

This presentation provided useful findings on forensic evidence and on sexual assault to both unit leaders and first responders in the United States Air Force, drawing from Dr. Ted Cross’ National Institute of Justices-funded research. Results from an initial study suggest that crime laboratory evidence plays a role in only a small number of arrests in sexual assault cases, because the vast majority of arrests take place soon after the reported incident, well before crime laboratory analysis. But DNA evidence was significantly more likely in the small number of arrests that took place later, after the crime laboratory analysis was completed. This suggests the potential impact of DNA in making arrests that occur well after the incident. In the second study, DNA matches were significantly related to obtaining convictions in sexual assault cases, though the DNA match could be both a cause and effect. A DNA match can identify an unknown suspect and strengthen the evidence against a known offender. But DNA matches can also be an effect of pursuing convictions, since prosecutors who were interviewed reported that, to be thorough, they always try to introduce DNA evidence in cases they carry forward, even if the case rests mostly on other evidence. Juries expect it. (Read more about Dr. Cross’ presentation in a news release here.)


Mar 2016 / Research Brief    
Theodore P. Cross, Saijun Zhang, and Xinrong Lei

Significant percentages of youth in substitute care run away at some point during their stay. Running away can be a signal of distress or of difficulties adjusting to a placement. For these reasons alone it deserves attention. It could also disrupt foster care placements, place youth in risky environments, and decrease the chances that youth in care will find a permanent home. This brief reports on the frequency of running away from substitute care in Illinois and compares rates of running away by type of placement. It also explores the case characteristics that are associated with running away, and examines the types of placements that youth are placed in after returning to substitute care. Finally, it breaks new ground by analyzing how often runaway youth who return to the same type of setting nevertheless change specific caregivers and change institutions or group homes.


Feb 2016 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring    
CFRC

This annual report provides information on the performance of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services with regard to the outcomes for children who are in or at risk of substitute care. This monitoring report, required as part of the B.H. Consent Decree, examines measures of child safety, family and placement stability, continuity, permanence, and child and family well-being. Detailed break-downs of each indicator by child gender, race, age, and geographic region are provided in the appendix.


Dec 2015 / Report / Differential Response  
Tamara Fuller, Michael T. Braun, Yuling Chiu, Theodore P. Cross, Martin Nieto, Gail Tittle, and Satomi Wakita

Following a lengthy and thorough planning process, the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) began implementing Differential Response (DR) in two districts (District 5 and District 11) in May 2014, with statewide implementation expected to occur in 2017. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of their Differential Response Initiative, DHS selected the Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) to design and conduct a rigorous and comprehensive evaluation with three major components: 1) a process evaluation, 2) an outcome evaluation, and 3) a cost analysis. The 2015 Annual Evaluation Report describes the results of the evaluation as of December 2015 and includes findings from the first round of implementation site visits and the DR fidelity assessment.


Sep 2015 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Debra Whitcomb and Theodore Cross

Prosecution of child abuse often depends on the ability of children to testify in court, but this places enormous demands on children and risks exacerbating the effects of the abuse. This presentation provides an overview of research and legal and practice development on child abuse victims in the courtroom in recent decades, and presents new survey data from prosecutors and Children's Advocacy Centers about current challenges of prosecuting child abuse and what steps professionals are taking to protect and support children in court. It was originally presented at annual conference of the Institute of Violence, Abuse and Trauma in San Diego, CA in September 2015.


Jul 2015 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Ted Cross

This presentation compares child, adolescent and adult cases receiving forensic medical examinations following sexual assault. Data come from a National Institute of Justice-funded study of 563 medical examinations conducted across Massachusetts from 2008 to 2010, which included data from medical, crime laboratory and police reports. Results suggest that adolescent victims present severe challenges that are different from those of younger victims, challenges similar to those faced by adults. Adolescents were at higher risk for injury than younger children, and for cases being dropped by police. Biological evidence was more prevalent too, which can enhance opportunities for pursuing justice but also places a premium on adolescents undergoing medical examination. The needs of the adolescents, who were as young as 12, are different from both younger children and adults, and systems and practice models have not been developed that are specifically tailored to this age group. These results could help inspire the development of enhanced models of care specifically aimed at adolescent victims of sexual assault.


Jun 2015 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Theodore Cross and Wendy Walsh

Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) are multidisciplinary centers designed to coordinate all professionals involved in the investigative and service response to child abuse. They provide forensic child interviews with interviewers trained in best practice and a multidisciplinary team to coordinate the work of child protection, law enforcement, prosecution, health, mental health and other professionals. Over 700 CACs are providing services across all 50 states and in several foreign countries. This presentation presents an overview of research involving CACs. Several studies suggest the efficacy of CACs for improving several aspects of the response to children, and a number of important studies expanding knowledge on child maltreatment have been conducted in CACs. Several opportunities and challenges of doing research in CACs are discussed, and new results from a survey of CAC directors on Center practice are presented. This presentation was originally given at the One Child, Many Hands Multidisciplinary Conference on Child Welfare in Philadelphia in June 2015.


May 2015 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Yu-ling Chiu, Martin Nieto, Satomi Wakita, and Tamara Fuller

The Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP) is a safety assessment protocol used in child protection investigations and child welfare services in Illinois. Workers utilize the protocol at specified milestones throughout the life of an investigation or child welfare case to help focus their decision-making to determine whether a child is safe or unsafe, and if unsafe, decide what actions must be taken to assure their safety. The current report examines CERAP use among placement cases in order to answer the following questions:

  1. What is the compliance rate of CERAP assessment at each of the following milestones for placement cases:
    • Within 5 working days after a worker receives a new or transferred case, when there are other children in the home of origin?
    • Every 90 calendar days from the case opening date?
    • Within 24 hours prior to return a child home?
    • Within 5 working days after a child is returned home and every month thereafter until the family case is closed?
  2. Do compliance rates vary by region?
  3. What is the relationship between the safety decision of the CERAP completed every 90 calendar days from the case opening date and reunification date?


Jan 2015 / Presentation    
Yu-Ling Chiu

Most trajectory research related to crime focuses on males and studies the offending behaviors from childhood to adulthood. Only very few studies focus on developmental trajectories of female delinquency during adolescence. Given that increasing girls appear in the juvenile justice system, given that the offending behaviors of females and males are not identical, and given that insufficient empirical studies provides good foundation to design effective interventions for delinquent girls, it is important to understand girls' offending trajectories. In order to address the needs of different types of girls in the juvenile justice system and provide suggestions of informing practice, the current study aims to answer the questions concerning how girls' offending behaviors develop over time during adolescence.


Jan 2015 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring    
CFRC

This annual report provides information on the performance of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services with regard to the outcomes for children who are in or at risk of substitute care. This monitoring report, required as part of the B.H. Consent Decree, examines measures of child safety, family and placement stability, continuity, permanence, and child and family well-being. Detailed break-downs of each indicator by child gender, race, age, and geographic region are provided in the appendix.


Dec 2014 / Journal Publication / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Theodore P. Cross, Emmeline Chuang, Jesse J. Helton, and Emily A. Lux

This study analyzed the frequency and correlates of criminal investigation of child maltreatment in cases investigated by child protective service (CPS), using national probability data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being. Criminal investigations were conducted in slightly more than 25% of cases. Communities varied substantially in percentage criminally investigated. Sexual abuse was the most frequent type of maltreatment criminally investigated followed by physical abuse. Logistic regression results indicated that criminal investigations were more likely when caseworkers perceived greater harm and more evidence; when CPS conducted an investigation rather than an assessment; when a parent or a legal guardian reported themaltreatment; and when cases were located in communities in which CPS and police had a memorandum of understanding (MOU) governing coordination. Most variation between communities in criminal investigation remained unexplained. The findings suggest the potential of MOUs for communities wanting to increase criminal investigation.

Cross, T.P., Chuang, E., Helton, J.J. & Lux, E.A. (2015). Criminal investigation in child protective services cases: An empirical analysis. Child Maltreatment, 20, 104-114.

Nov 2014 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Theodore Cross, Megan Alderden, Alex Wagner, Lisa Sampson, Brittany Peters, Kaitlin Lounsbury, Laura Siller

The use of forensic evidence in sexual assault cases is prominent in TV crime dramas, but no studies have examined how prosecutors actually use forensic evidence in these cases and what impact it has in trials. This presentation provides preliminary qualitative results from a mixed methods study of the role of forensic evidence in sexual assault cases in an urban district attorney's office. Assistant district attorneys were interviewed about their experience in using forensic evidence on sexual assault and their observations about when and how it can be employed to effectively prosecute these crimes. They reported that forensic evidence can be effective in a variety of ways as part of a prosecution strategy with multiple forms of evidence.


Oct 2014 / Presentation    
Saijun Zhang, Hui Huang, and Meirong Liu

Substance abuse has been a serious problem among families involved in child welfare systems. Much effort has been devoted to improve caregivers' engagement and retention in substance abuse treatment programs for better child welfare outcomes, but there is a lack of systematic review to synthesize the effects of these programs. The current study identifies 7 studies and applies meta-analysis technique to examine, compare, and synthesize the program effects. The pooled sample consists of 2,876 subjects in the experimental groups, and 1,711 subjects in the control groups. The analysis generates a synthesized odds ratio of 2.29 (z=4.77. p<.0001), suggesting that on average, the odds for experimental groups to have the favorable outcome is 2.29 times as that for the control groups. This paper was presented at the 60th Annual Program Meeting of Council on Social Work Education in Tampa, FL.


Sep 2014 / Report / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Theodore P. Cross, Megan Alderden, Alexander Wagner, Lisa Sampson, Brittany Peters, Meredith Spencer, and Kaitlin Lounsbury

Biological evidence like DNA can be central to the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault, as can evaluation and documentation of injuries. But data are lacking on the actual impact of these forms of forensic evidence on the criminal justice system. Through a grant from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), CFRC researcher Theodore Cross headed a team that examined the frequency and timing of forensic evidence and its relationship to arrest in a statewide sample of cases. Most arrests took place well before crime laboratory analysis could be conducted, but DNA profiles and matches to suspects were prominent in a small set of cases in which police had access to crime laboratory results prior to arrest. The final report to NIJ that we link to here highlights these results and many others on how often and when forensic evidence is available is a wide array of different types of sexual assault cases.


Jul 2014 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Alexander Wagner, Theodore Cross, Megan Alderden, Lisa Sampson, Brittany Peters, and Meredith Spencer

Promising methods have emerged in the last tweny years for using DNA and other biological evidence in the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault, but there is little research on how often this type of evidence is available and what role it plays in the criminal justice response to sexual research. This presentation to the Massachusetts Association of Crime Analysts is one of a series reporting findings from of a National Institute Justice-funded study on the frequeny, use and impact of forensic evidence in criminal investigations of sexual assault. Results suggests that biological evidence and DNA does not play a role in the vast majority of arrests, which are typically made soon after the incident. But DNA is very prominent in a small number of cases in which arrests are made later, after crime laboratory analysis has been conducted.


Jul 2014 / Presentation / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Theodore Cross, Betsy Goulet, Jesse Helton, Emily Lux, and Tamara Fuller

Individuals considering reporting child maltreatment to protective services would naturally consider what would result from the report for the child and family. This could affect both their opinion about the value of reporting and their decision to report. This presentation profiles outcomes of reporting and considers the implications for understanding and improving the reporting situation. It briefly reviews research on the frequency and predictors of five different decisions: screening out, substantiation, CPS service delivery, child placement and providing differential response Then, using new analysis of national data, we profile the different decisions that are likely to be made for a hypothetical 100 cases. Findings suggest how modest the protective service response is in most cases, how much communities differ in outcomes of reporting, how much of a difference case factors like child age make, and how resources affect the profile of outcomes. Finally, this presentation discusses how understanding what outcomes of reporting are likely and what factors affect these outcomes could influence policy, practice and training regarding reporting.


Jul 2014 / Presentation / Differential Response    
John Fluke, Lisa Merkel-Holguin, Ying-ying Yuan, and Tamara Fuller

Presented at the 16th annual child welfare waiver demonstration project meeting in July 2014, this presentation highlights the status of Differential Response (DR) implementation in the U.S.; summarizes the results of the "first generation" of DR evaluation research on key indicators including parent engagement with CPS, child safety, and program costs; and suggests areas for the next generation of DR research.


Jul 2014 / Presentation / Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations    
Tamara Fuller, Theodore Cross, Vaughn Brandt, and Colleen McGroarty

As part of their Title IV-E waiver demonstration project, the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) was interested in developing a way to target post-reunification services to those families that were at highest risk of re-entry into substitute care. The CFRC used historical data to develop a predictive risk model, known as the Re-entry Prevention Model (RPM) that was implemented in each county that was part of the waiver demonstration project. The CFRC and DCF gave an overview of the RPM development and implementation process at the 16th annual child welfare waiver demonstration projects meeting, including a discussion of the lessons learned.


Jul 2014 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
The Timing of Forensic Evidence in Sexual Assault CasesWEB
Megan Alderden and Theodore P. Cross

This newsletter article presents a brief overview of key findings from a study of forensic evidence in sexual assault cases and its relationship to arrest, focusing particularly on the role of timing. Most arrests took place well before crime laboratory analysis could be conducted, but DNA profiles and matches to suspects were prominent in a small set of cases in which police had access to crime laboratory results prior to arrest. Readers who want to glean important knowledge from this National Institute of Justice study with a brief investment of time can seek this article from the Sexual Assault Report newsletter.

Alderden, M & Cross, T.P. (2014). The timing of forensic evidence in sexual assault cases. Sexual Assault Report, 17, 83-84.

May 2014 / Report    
Tamara Fuller and Martin Nieto

The Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP) is a safety assessment protocol used in child protection investigations and child welfare services in Illinois. It is designed to provide workers with a mechanism for quickly assessing the potential for moderate to severe harm to a child in the immediate or near future and for taking quick action to protect children. Workers utilize the protocol at specified milestones throughout the life of an investigation or child welfare case to help focus their decision-making to determine whether a child is safe or unsafe, and if unsafe, decide what actions must be taken to assure their safety.


May 2014 / Presentation / Differential Response    
Tamara Fuller, Raquel Ellis, and Julie Murphy

Jurisdictions across the country have adopted dual-track systems and there has been increasing focus on building the evidence base around this innovative approach to CPS services. In 2009, Colorado, Illinois and Ohio were selected by the National Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response in Child Protective Services (QIC-DR) to implement Differential Response and conduct rigorous, multi-year evaluations of their DR approaches. During this panel, evaluators from the three sites will discuss highlights from the outcome evaluations, focusing on outcomes related to parent perceptions of CPS and child safety. An interactive discussion of the implications of the findings for practice and future research will follow.


Feb 2014 / Journal Publication / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Obesity Prevalence Among Youth Investigated for Maltreatment in the United States
Jesse Helton and Janet Liechty

The objective of this study is to determine the prevalence and correlates of obesity among youth investigated for maltreatment in the United States. Participants were drawn from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being II, a national probability study of 5,873 children aged birth to 17 years under investigation for maltreatment in 2008. From child weight reported by caregivers, we estimated obesity (weight-for-age ≥95th percentile) prevalence among children aged 2 through 17 (n = 2,948). Sex-specific logistic regression models by developmental age were used to identify obesity risk factors, including child age, race/ethnicity, and maltreatment type. Obesity prevalence was 25.4% and was higher among boys than girls (30.0% vs. 20.8%). African American adolescent boys had a lower risk for obesity than white boys (OR = 0.28, 95% CI [0.08, 0.94]). Compared with girls aged 2–5 with a neglect allegation, girls with a sexual abuse allegation were at greater risk for obesity (OR = 3.54, 95% CI [1.01, 12.41]). Compared with adolescent boys with a neglect allegation, boys with a physical abuse allegation had a lower risk for obesity (OR = 0.24, 95% CI [0.06, 0.99]). Adolescent girls with a prior family history of investigation were at greater risk for obesity than those without a history of investigation (OR = 3.97, 95% CI [1.58, 10.02]). Youth investigated for maltreatment have high obesity rates compared with national peers. Opportunities to modify and evaluate related child welfare policies and health care practices should be pursued.

Helton, J. J., & Liechty, J. M. (2014). Obesity prevalence among youth investigated for maltreatment in the United States. Child Abuse & Neglect.

Feb 2014 / Journal Publication    
Eun Koh, Nancy Rolock, Theodore P. Cross & Jennifer Eblen-Manning

This study investigates what characteristics explain placement instability for children in foster care. Using a matched sample of children experiencing stable and unstable placements, bivariate and logistic regression analyses were conducted to identify factors for placement instability. The study also examines specific reasons for placement changes for a group of children who experienced multiple placements. Findings from this study highlight the following three components that contribute to placement stability for children in foster care: a) a caregiver's commitment to a child's legal permanence; b) the absence of a child's mental health diagnosis; and c) placements with a relative caregiver. The findings of the study also illustrate that while system- or policy-related reasons explain the largest proportion of placement changes for children's earlier stay in foster care, a majority of placement changes are attributed to either foster family-related or child behavior-related reasons over time. This is a companion article to Cross and colleagues (2013) publication, Why Do Children Experience Multiple Placement Changes in Foster Care? A Content Analysis on Reasons for Instability, which is cited elsewhere in this listing of publications.

Koh, E., Rolock, N., Cross, T.P., & Eblen-Manning, J. (2014). What explains instability in foster care? Comparison of a matched sample of children with stable and unstable placements. Children and Youth Services Review, 37, 36-45.

Jan 2014 / Presentation    
Judy Havlicek

Little is known about the maltreatment experiences of youth who age out of substitute care. Their late age at entry and failed attempts at reunification may nevertheless mean prolonged exposure to child maltreatment. This study involves a secondary data analysis of state child welfare administrative data. A latent variable modeling approach is used to generate profiles of maltreatment experiences based on maltreatment reports (McCutcheon, 1987). A cohort of foster youth who reached the age of majority is selected from state administrative data based upon the following criteria: 1) In out-of-home care at age 17; 2) In care for at least 1-year; 3) Turned 18-years in out-of-home care; and 4) Entered due to child abuse/neglect. There are 801 foster youth that meet sample selection criteria, and the observation period is from FY1989-2011. All unduplicated maltreatment records are included in the analysis, including substantiated and unsubstantiated findings, and records occurring prior to and during any placement spell. Four categorical indicators of maltreatment are included in the LCA: # of different maltreatment types (1-7); Predominant type (1-3); Chronicity (1-5 developmental periods); and Number of different perpetrators (1-9). Classes are differentiated on variables not used in the classification process. Analysis of the model fit statistics and visual inspection identify a 4-class model as the best fitting solution. Study findings highlight the heterogeneity of maltreatment experiences in the lives of foster youth emancipating to adulthood from one state child welfare system. Study findings draw attention to the need to raise awareness among service providers about childhood maltreatment in older youth; to enhance research on the multiple dimensionality of maltreatment; and to develop best practices for promoting the safety of older adolescents who are without permanence. This study will be published in Child Maltreatment's upcoming special issue on emerging adulthood.


Jan 2014 / Presentation    
Judy Havlicek and Clark Peters

Three decades of research indicates that foster youth aging out of care are poorly prepared to make the transition to adulthood (Courtney et al., 2001; Courtney et al., 2003). They are twice as likely to be ?disconnected? from employment and education (Courtney & Dworsky, 2006), and six times more likely to experience homelessness than same-aged youth in the general population (Fowler et al., 2010). Research also suggests that foster youth who remain in substitute care past the age of majority tend to fare better than those who do not. At age 19, they are more likely to be enrolled in college (Courtney & Dworsky, 2006), to receive a mental health service (Courtney et al. 2006), and to avoid homelessness (Dworsky & Courtney, 2009). Understanding who stays and who leaves has important implications for ensuring that critical protections during the transition to adulthood reach those who are in need. The goal of this study is to examine how long young adults remain in substitute care, and the factors related to increased or decreased time to exit from care. This study involves a secondary data analysis of state child welfare administrative data. The sample includes a cohort of young people who turned 18 while in out-of-home care, who were: (1) in out-of-home care at age 17; (2) in care for at least 1year; and (3) entered substitute care due to child abuse or neglect. The outcome of interest is the first exit from substitute care that occurs past age 18. The analyses focus on the timing of exits from substitute care.


Jan 2014 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring    
CFRC

This annual report provides information on the performance of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services with regard to the outcomes for children who are in or at risk of substitute care. This monitoring report, required as part of the B.H. Consent Decree, examines measures of child safety, family and placement stability, continuity, permanence, and child and family well-being. Detailed break-downs of each indicator by child gender, race, age, and geographic region are provided in the appendix.


Jan 2014 / Presentation / Differential Response    
Tamara Fuller, Megan Paceley, and Jill Schreiber

Many Child Protective Services (CPS) systems have implemented Differential Response (DR) in efforts to improve child and family outcomes by providing a wider array of concrete and preventative services with a less adversarial and more supportive approach. Quantitative survey data confirms that parents who receive DR services are more engaged, receive more concrete services, and have higher overall satisfaction than those who receive a traditional investigation; yet we still have little knowledge of what occurs inside the “black box” of service provision. This qualitative study provided an in-depth analysis of parents’ perspectives of the effectiveness of the services they received through a non-investigative CPS approach.


Dec 2013 / Journal Publication / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Prevalence of Disabilities and Abilities in Children Investigated for Abuse and Neglect
Jesse Helton and Christina Bruhn

Research on disability prevalence among children in child welfare settings has typically rendered disability as a dichotomous yes/no variable. Dichotomous assessments do not take into account how disability impairs body functions, limits activities of daily living, and restricts participation in activities. A superior measurement method positions disability on a continuum of distinct abilities that can vary substantially for children with the same diagnosis. The purpose of this study is to examine disability as a continuum of abilities in different domains (cognitive, behavioral, social, and daily living) for children ages 3 to 10 years who were part of a maltreatment investigation.

Helton, J. J., & Bruhn, C. M. (2013). Prevalence of disabilities and abilities in children investigated for abuse and neglect. Journal of Public Child Welfare,7(5), 480-495.

Nov 2013 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Theodore P. Cross, Megan Alderden, Alex Wagner, A., Daniel Bibel, Lisa Sampson, Brittany Peters, Saijun Zhang, and Meridith Spencer

This presentation reports on a study of the relationship between injury evidence and crime laboratory evidence and police unfounding and arrest in a statewide sample of Massachusetts sexual assault csaes. Most arrests took place rapidly--before crime laboratory analysis was conducted, but in the small number of cases in which arrests took place afterwards DNA evidence was common--suggesting the importance of DNA when probable cause cannot immediately be established. Arrests were more likely when there were injuries, though the causal relationship is unclear. Additional predictors of unfounding and arrest were identified.


Oct 2013 / Report / Differential Response, Safety and Risk    
Tamara Fuller, Martin Nieto, and Saijun Zhang

In December 2009, the State of Illinois was selected by the National Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response in Child Protective Services (QIC-DR) as one of three sites to implement and evaluate Differential Response (DR). This report presents the final findings of the outcome evaluation and cost analysis, which compared the newly implemented family assessment child protective services (CPS) response (known as "DR" in Illinois) to the traditional investigation response to answer three research questions: 1) How is the assessment response different from the investigation response in terms of family engagement, caseworker practice, and services provided? 2) Are children whose families receive an assessment response as safe as or safer than children whose families receive an investigation? 3) What are the cost and funding implications to the child protection agency of the implementation and maintenance of a differential response approach? The report provides an overview of the development and proliferation of Differential Response over the past two decades, summarizes previous research, and provides descriptions of both the traditional investigation response (IR) and the new differential response (DR). A description of the research design and data collection instruments is offered. Findings are presented that compare the two CPS responses (IR and DR) with regard to parent engagement and satisfaction; service provision; child safety and family well-being; and costs per-case.


Oct 2013 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Ted Cross, Joan Meunier-Sham, and L. Zuniga

This article describes a systematic approach used by a statewide pediatric sexual assault nurse examiner program to ensure the quality of forensic medical examinations it provides in child sexual abuse investigations. Seven strategies for enhancing quality are described: (a) hiring experienced professionals, (b) effective training, (c) comprehensive protocols, (d) ample support for pediatric sexual assault nurses, (e) management oversight, (f) a clinical coordinator to provide ongoing training and technical assistance, and (g) a quality assurance process in which expert child abuse pediatricians review each statewide pediatric sexual assault nurse examination. To show the evolution of quality care over time, the program's experience from 2004 to 2010 is reviewed, and quality assurance data are analyzed.

Sham, J.M., Cross, T.P. & Zuniga, L. (2013). The seven pillars of quality care in a statewide pediatric sexual assault nurse examiner program. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 22,722-739.


Jun 2013 / Report / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Jesse Helton and Ted Cross

This report provides a comprehensive look at the well-being of children involved with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) 18 months following the close of a substantiated investigation of maltreatment. It reports results from the Illinois Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (ISCAW), a statewide study of children in substantiated investigations that examines multiple domains of child well-being, including physical health, mental health, and developmental risk.


Mar 2013 / Journal Publication / Safety and Risk    
Saijun Zhang, Tamara Fuller, and Martin Nieto

In child protection services, multiple maltreatment recurrences, or chronic maltreatment, has been a concern drawing increased attention because of its persistent harm to the children and the need to consider more ef- fective intervention strategies to meet its unique needs. Timing has been an important issue in understanding the pattern of chronic maltreatment. No existing research has examined the influence of the interval between previous maltreatment incidents on future recurrences. The current study uses state administrative data to conduct longitudinal analyses to examine how the interval between previous maltreatment incidents is asso- ciated with the likelihood of future maltreatment occurrence among children who encountered multiple maltreatment recurrences. The findings suggest that short intervals are associated with increased likelihood of encountering a future recurrence, while controlling various covariates. The findings suggest the possibility of including the interval between previous maltreatment incidents as an indicator for child maltreatment risk assessment, and the need for developing responsive intervention strategies to stop the trend of chronic maltreatment.

Zhang, S., Fuller, T., & Nieto, M (2013). Didn't we just see you? Time to recurrence among frequently encountered families in CPS. Children and Youth Services Review, 35, 883–889.

Feb 2013 / Journal Publication    
Theodore Cross, Eun Koh, Nancy Rolock & Jennifer Eblen-Manning

This study used content analysis and qualitative analysis to examine reasons for moves in 53 child welfare cases with placement instability. Coding from case records of reasons for placement moves revealed three categories in most cases: 1) caregiver-related reasons, such as maltreatment by caregivers or changes in caregivers' lives; 2) child behavior-related reasons such as aggressive behaviors; and 3) system- or policy-related reasons, such as the need to use temporary placements or the aim of placing children with siblings. Children's previous instability should be considered in choosing and supporting caregivers, providing mental health resources, and considering moves to improve care.

Theodore Cross, Eun Koh, Nancy Rolock & Jennifer Eblen-Manning (2013). Why do children experience multiple placement changes in foster care? Content analysis on reasons for instability. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 7, 39-58.

Feb 2013 / Journal Publication / Differential Response    
Jill Schreiber, Tamara Fuller, and Megan Paceley

Recent reforms in child protection systems (CPS) in several countries have placed an increased emphasis on engaging parents in the initial assessment and service planning process. CPS workers, however, face multiple barriers to successful engagement with parents, including parents' preconceived notions of CPS and their subsequent fearful or angry responses to the initial visit. This qualitative study sought input from 40 parents involved in CPS regarding the strategies that workers used to successfully engage them in the child protection intervention. Three major themes about worker skills emerged from the analysis of the interview transcripts: parents were more positively engaged with CPS workers who they perceived as competent, who utilized positive communication skills, and who provided them with either emotional or concrete support. These findings have clear implications for CPS worker training; especially for CPS agencies that do not require CPS workers to have social work degrees. Additional implications for CPS agencies, such as the need for realistic worker caseloads and effective community outreach, are discussed.

Schreiber, J., Fuller, T., & Paceley, M. (2013). Engagement in child protective services: Parent perceptions of worker skills. Children and Youth Services Review, 35, 707–715.


Jan 2013 / Presentation    
Jesse J. Helton & Janet Liechty

No study to date has examined the prevalence of obesity in a nationally representative sample of children who were part of a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation for abuse and neglect. Further, no study has been able to examine differences in obesity risk by child and family demographics and maltreatment case characteristics. Therefore the purpose of this study is to (1) determine the prevalence and correlates of obesity among children investigated for abuse and neglect in the U.S. and (2) examine associations between obesity, child race/ethnicity and family material hardship, history of a prior investigation, type of alleged maltreatment, and credibility of allegation by child sex and developmental age.


Jan 2013 / Presentation    
Jesse J. Helton and Theodore P. Cross

Children entering foster care are at high risk for chronic physical, developmental, and psychological conditions requiring intensive health and rehabilitative services. Even though Medicaid covers all children in foster care, research shows that many children with chronic health conditions (CCHC) do not receive the necessary specialized or primary care services they require. CCHC with kin caregivers may be at a particular disadvantage, according to previous studies. This study assesses health care utilization for CCHC and those without in a large sample of children entering either kinship or traditional placements.


Jan 2013 / Presentation / Safety and Risk    
Saijun Zhang, Tamara Fuller

Chronic child maltreatment, which typically refers to three and more maltreatment incidents associated with a child or family, has gained increasing concerns because of its persistent harm to the children and its disproportional consumption of child welfare resources. Using data from the Illinois child welfare administrative dataset, the study analyzed 2,781 children who had at least two re-reports of child abuse and neglect during the two year observational period from July 1st 2009 to June 30th 2011. The two year period was divided into four 6-month consecutive observation sessions. Maltreatment reports were summed within each session for each child, which yielded a repeated measure of maltreatment count every 6 months. Mplus 7 was used for the Latent Growth Curve Modeling estimation. The results show a declining slope (change rate) of maltreatment counts over time, and identify a series of covariates affecting the slope. The findings have useful implication for child welfare policy and practice concerning chronic maltreatment issues.


Jan 2013 / Presentation    
Jiyoung Kang

The purpose of this study was to test pathways from perceived instrumental social support to neglectful parenting with two mediating variables -- material hardship and personal control. I used a subsample of mothers (n=2,910) who participated in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study (FFCW) from the birth of their children through age 5. The model fits the data well and the findings supported the proposed pathways among variables. Perceived instrumental social support decreased material hardship and increased personal control. Decreased material hardship and increased personal control in turn decreased neglectful parenting. Decreased material hardship also increased personal control. The study's findings contribute to the design and evaluation of social support prevention programs for child neglect.


Jan 2013 / Journal Publication / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Emmeline Chuang, Rebecca Wells, John Bellettiere and Theodore P. Cross

Parental substance use significantly increases risk of child maltreatment, but is often under-identified by child protective services. This study examined how agency use of standardized substance use assessments and child welfare investigative caseworker education, experience, and caseload affected caseworkers' identification of parental substance abuse treatment needs. Data are from a national probability sample of permanent, primary caregivers involved with child protective services whose children initially remained at home and whose confidential responses on two validated instruments indicated harmful substance use or dependence. Investigative caseworkers reported use of a formal assessment in over two thirds of cases in which substance use was accurately identified. However, weighted logistic regression indicated that agency provision of standardized assessment instruments was not associated with caseworker identification of caregiver needs. Caseworkers were also less likely to identify substance abuse when their caseloads were high and when caregivers were fathers. Implications for agency practice are discussed.

Chuang, E., Wells, R., Bellettiere, J. & Cross, T.P. (2013). Identifying the substance abuse treatment needs of caregivers involved in child welfare. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 45, 118-125.

Dec 2012 / Research Brief    
SaiJun Zhang & Tamara Fuller

A large proportion of children live apart from their fathers among unwed birth families. Lack of paternal involvement has been shown to have a negative impact on child development, and federal and state programs have been initiated to improve paternal engagement among families without a resident father. It is important to understand factors that hamper or promote paternal engagement. This study explores the influence of neighborhood environment on paternal engagement beyond individual and family characteristics, and compares the difference between resident father families and nonresident father families.


Dec 2012 / Research Brief / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Theodore P. Cross, Joan Meunier-Sham and Cynthia L. Moore

This brief presents data on statewide implementation of the Massachusetts Pediatric Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit, a specially designed non-invasive kit for victims of child sexual abuse receiving acute forensic medical examinations. The kit yielded biological evidence in 33% of 283 cases, a rate that was comparable or higher than previous studies using traditional, more invasive methods.


Nov 2012 / Presentation / Differential Response    
Tamara Fuller, Raquel Ellis, Julie Murphy, and Marc Winokur

Family perspectives are often overlooked when data is collected in child welfare proigram evaluations. To elicit the family voice from caregivers involved with Child Protective Services in Differential Response systems in Illinois, Colorado, and Ohio, the evaluators designed and administered a family exit survey. This presentation, given at the 7th Annual Conference on Differential Response in Child Welfare, describes the instrument development process and presents preliminary findings. The presentation also focuses on special considerations when collecting data from child welfare populations, including the importance of cognitive testing and strategies for enhancing response rates. Finally, results of a qualitative study with families conducted in Illinois are presented.


Nov 2012 / Presentation    
Yu-Ling Chiu

Onset age of first offending is known to be an important predictor for chronic offenders. I include both females and males and examine whether onset age has different impacts on the continuation of offending. I use administrative records from child welfare and juvenile justice in the State of Washington. The sample consists of 13,521 first time offenders between 8and 16 years of age in 2005. Onset age was categorized as early onset age (age 13 and under), and late onset age (age 14-16). I conduct multinomial regression for the whole sample, female subsample, and male subsample respectively. For the whole sample, the multinomial regression shows that, being male (63%), being African American(10%) or Hispanic (7%), and being dually involved youth (17%) are associated with a greater risk of multiple re-offenses. Late onset age is associated greater risks of re-offenses. The results of female and male subsamples do show that onset age has different impacts on continuing. Female youths at the early onset age are found to be 1.5 times more likely to be persistent offenders; while male youths at the late onset criminal age are found to be 1.3 times more likely to be persistent offenders.


Nov 2012 / Presentation    
Yu-Ling Chiu

Female youth are increasingly visible in the juvenile justice system and some evidence suggests maltreatment may be a particularly important precursor to girls’ delinquency. The current study addresses what factors contribute to the transition from child welfare to juvenile justice. Methods: I analyzed juvenile arrests and child protection records in Los Angeles County between 2000 and 2008. I use event history analysis to answer the research question. The models indicate African American girls are at greatest risk relative to both white and Hispanic girls. Girls with a history of neglect are 1.5 times as likely to experience a juvenile arrest as compared with girls with sexual abuse histories. Regarding placement types, girls primarily placed in a non relative foster home (Exp(β)=.589, p<.01) or a relative foster home (Exp(β)=.445, p<.01) were significantly less likely to enter the juvenile justice system as compared with similar girls primarily placed in congregate care facilities. Placement instability increases the risk of juvenile arrest. Juvenile courts must tailor different services for girls simultaneously involved in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems for their unique needs.


Nov 2012 / Presentation    
Hui Huang

The association between child maltreatment and juvenile delinquency is well-established. A number of studies show that youths with maltreatment experience have higher delinquency rates than their peers. Many maltreatment victims receive child welfare services. However, several studies show that child welfare services are associated with higher rates of first time offending and recidivism. Studies report that placement instability in substitute care and staying in congregate placement (e.g. group home) contribute to higher rates of first time offending. Little research has examined whether child welfare system’s response to returning delinquent wards is associated with higher rates of recidivism. Informed by deviant peer influences in congregate care, I hypothesize that placing delinquent cases from family-like settings in congregate care is associated with higher rates of recidivism. I use administrative records from the Los Angeles County Department of Probation and the Department of Children and Family Services. I studied a sample of 5,630 first time violent offenders who were put on probation or dismissed. Thirty-three percent of them recidivated within two years. Using logistic regression, I find that placing delinquent wards in congregate care was associated with higher rates of recidivism. Results highlight potential mechanisms through which child welfare services affect recidivism.


Nov 2012 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Megan Alderden, Theodore P. Cross, Alexander Wagner, Daniel Bibel, Marjorie Bernadeau, Lisa Sampson, Saijun Zhang, Kaitlin Lounsbury and Brittany Peters

This presentation reports preliminary results from a study of forensic evidence in 587 adult sexual assault cases (victim age 12 and older) seen by medical providers in Massachusetts from 2008 to 2010.Non-genital injuries were found in 53% of victims, genital injuries in 41.1% of victims, and biological evidence in 86.9% of cases (the last included semen, blood, a saliva enzyme and/or other biological evidence). Over two thirds of medical examinations were conducted by nurses from the statewide Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) program, who are specially trained to conduct forensic medical examinations in sexual assault cases, and less than one-third by other medical providers, primarily emergency department physicians. Black and Hispanic victims were significantly less likely to have non-genital injuries identified, which may relate to the contrast in color between the injury and skin. SANE nurses were significantly more likely to identify genital injuries; there was no significant difference on non-genital injuries. In 40.9% of cases in which some biological evidence was found, the crime labs were able to extract a DNA profile. In 37.9% of the cases with DNA profiles generated, the DNA matched the suspect in the case, in 8.3% the DNA matched the DNA in another investigation in a national DNA database, and in 17.5% the DNA matched a convicted offender in that database. There were no significant differences between SANE nurses and other medical providers on likelihood of forensic evidence, even though the SANEs, whose philosophy stresses empowering patient choices, were significantly less likely to use certain procedures such as pubic hair combings.


Nov 2012 / Presentation    
Jill Schreiber

Child maltreatment is a societal trauma that affects the child, the family, and the community. Although faith can provide social and community supports as well as coping mechanisms for families in trauma, few studies have explored religious measures with this population. In this paper we present nationally representative demographic data on religious attendance of child welfare-involved youth and caregivers using the National Study of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW II). Parents investigated for maltreatment have low religious attendance: Only 21% attend weekly, whereas 36% of kin (related) foster parents and 61% of non-kin attend religious services weekly. The strongest predictors of youth religious attendance were parent attendance and whether youth attended with their parent. Moving between a biological family and a foster family predicts decreases in youth weekly attendance, but remaining at the same home or moving from one foster home to another is not correlated with a decrease in weekly attendance. No factors were correlated with an increase in weekly attendance in this sample.


Sep 2012 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Joan Meunier-Sham, Theodore Cross, and Cynthia Moore

This presentation reports research on Massachusetts Pediatric Forensic Evidence Collection Kit, the first evidence kit in the country specially created to collect forensic medical evidence in acute child sexual assault cases. The kit is designed to follow a set of "first do no harm" principles that make use of the kit less invasive and more supportive of children than traditional methods of medical examination. Statistical results are presented that show that the kits yield biological evidence following crime lab analysis at rates that are comparable to previous studies even while following the "do no harm" principles.


Jul 2012 / Report / Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations    
Joseph P. Ryan and Hui Huang

This report presents findings from Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Title IV-E Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) Waiver Demonstration. Implemented in 2000, the AODA waiver randomly assigned substance-involved parents with children in substitute care to either a control group (services as usual) or a treatment group (services as usual plus the services of a recovery coach). Results indicate the parents assigned to the recovery coach group are more likely to achieve family reunification as compared to parents assigned to the control group. In addition, children in the treatment group spent significantly fewer days in foster care as compared to children in the control group. It is estimated that the waiver demonstration saved the State of Illinois at least $6,141,925 through March 2012.


Jul 2012 / Research Brief / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Theodore Cross, Jesse Helton, and Emmeline Chuang

Some advocates argue that police too rarely conduct criminal investigations in Child Protective Services sexual abuse cases, while policy regarding police involvement in CPS physical abuse and neglect cases is not well developed. However, little research has examined how often police investigate in CPS cases and what factors predict involvement. Using two cohorts of cases (1999-2001 and 2008-2009) from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, a national probability study of children involved in CPS investigations, this presentation examines the frequency of criminal investigations in CPS cases and the factors predicting criminal investigation. Across cohorts, criminal investigations took place in 21% to 24% of all cases, 47% to 49% of sexual abuse cases, 24% to 27% of physical abuse cases and 15% to 18% of neglect cases. Police investigated more often when caseworkers reported greater risk and harm to the child and greater evidence, but variables like child age and relationship to perpetrator were not significant. Which county was involved, however, was a major predictor, with enormous variation in rates of police investigation across counties. Thus the likelihood of a criminal investigation depends on severity but also agency differences in practice. Equity suggests the need to discuss these differences.


Jul 2012 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Theodore Cross

This day-long workshop presents a more comprehensive overview of 25 years of research on the criminal justice response to child maltreatment. Topics include the progress of child abuse cases through the criminal justice system, the effect of multidisciplinary teams, the impact of the court experience and testifying on child victims, factors associated with prosecution, and research on evidence and offender confession.


Jul 2012 / Presentation    
Jesse Helton, Theodore Cross and Tatiana Gochez-Kerr

Although studies have shown that children with disabilities are at an increased risk for both intrafamilial maltreatment and extrafamilial victimization, few examine how specific forms of disability and level of impairment predict risk, and most examine only one type of victimization. This study examines the association between levels of social abilities, everyday living skills, and internalizing and externalizing behaviors and the prevalence of single or multiple types of victimization. The analysis used baseline and 18 month follow-up data for youth ages 8 to 17 in a longitudinal national probability study of children involved in maltreatment investigations in 2008. Youth with very severe impairments in living skills were at a decreased risk of both single and multiple victimizations than low to normal functioning peers. Youth with very severe internalizing problems were at an increased risk of a single type of victimization – either sexual abuse or neglect - than low to normal functioning peers. Youth with very severe to severe externalizing problems were at an increased risk of a single type of victimization – sexual abuse, neglect, or assault - than normal functioning peers. Presenters will discuss plausible explanations of why children at different levels of these types of functionality may be more or less likely to experience single or multiple forms of victimizations.


Jul 2012 / Presentation / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Theodore P. Cross, Jesse J. Helton, Sandra Lyons & Judy Havlicek

Young child maltreatment victims are extremely vulnerable to compromised development. Using the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, this presentation reports Illinois and national research on developmental challenges for child victims age 0 to 5 and on interventions to address developmental lags. Large proportions of these children show delays in cognitive and language development. Gaps exist in providing early intervention, though children in foster care are more likely to receive it.Obstacles to identifying children with developmental need, referring them to early intervention (EI), and providing EI services limit the number of children receiving help and the positive impact of their involvement with EI. However, a large majority of Illinois substantiated child victims are enrolled in early child education programs, significantly more than in the rest of the country.


Jul 2012 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Jesse Helton and April Diaz

The purpose of this research brief is to examine the use of community food services (such as food pantries and soup kitchens) and state-provided food assistance programs among families involved in child welfare investigations in Illinois. The percentage of families in substantiated investigations in Illinois that use community food service and food assistance programs is compared to the percentage of these households that are eligible for assistance.


Jul 2012 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Sandra J. Lyons, Theodore P. Cross, & Jesse J. Helton

Children from birth to age 3 are particularly vulnerable to adverse effects of child maltreatment on their development. This research brief reports findings from the Illinois Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (ISCAW) concerning the well-being of infants and toddlers in substantiated maltreatment cases in Illinois. Disproportionate percentages live in poverty, experience risk factors like domestic violence and caregiver substance abuse, and have special health care needs. Standardized measures of child development used by ISCAW show that many are at risk for development delays. Programs such as DCFS’ Integrated Assessment Program and Early Childhood Placement Family Services Program that provide developmental screening and consultations and referrals on early childhood issues are critical to meeting the developmental needs of young children involved with DCFS.


Jun 2012 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Jill Schreiber and Theodore Cross

Maltreated children are more likely to attend religious services when their caregivers (including foster parents) attend religious services. Maltreating parents are less likely to attend religious services than foster parents, so it is likely that in addition to changes in their home and school, children entering foster care will also be experiencing changes in how often they attend religious services


Jun 2012 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Theodore Cross

This 90 minute workshop presents a brief overview of 25 years of research on the criminal justice response to child abuse. Topics include the progress of child abuse cases through the criminal justice system, the effect of multidisciplinary teams, the impact of the court experience and testifying on child victims, factors associated with prosecution, and research on evidence and offender confession.


Jun 2012 / Report / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Theodore Cross and Jesse Helton

This report provides results from the Illinois Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (ISCAW), an intensive study of the well-being of a random sample of 818 Illinois children involved in substantiated child maltreatment investigations. The study is a component of the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW). Using data from interviews and standardized instruments used with caseworkers, caregivers, teachers and children themselves, ISCAW provides a broad profile on how child and youth victims function, how they are developing, and what services they receive. Chapters review child and adolescent well-being and services in five domains: child development; education; physical health; social, emotional and behavioral well-being; and risk in children's environment. Disproportionate percentages of children in each domain have significant problems needing intervention, but many children are resilient as well. Although many children receive services to address these problems, there is frequently a gap between the services needed and those delivered.


Jun 2012 / Presentation    
Jesse Helton

The objective of this presentation is to estimate the risk that a child place in out-of-home foster care following a maltreatment investigation will encounter times when adequate food is unavailable. The sample is derived from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being Cohort 2 (NSCAW 2), which is a study of children who have come into contact with the child welfare system in 2008. The results indicate that 40% of kinship caregivers report receiving food stamps at the time of child placement, which is substantially higher rate compared to 7% of foster parents. Results also indicate that, regardless of placement type, being divorced, separated, or never married, having less than a high school degree, and having a lower family income were all associated with increased risk for food stamp receipt. Although there are many advantages to being placed with kin, children in kinship foster care are at a high risk of encountering times when adequate food is unavailable. These instances have the potential to seriously endanger a child’s already compromised health and may have implications for maltreatment recurrence.


Jun 2012 / Presentation    
Jesse Helton and April Diaz

Although the special health care needs of children entering foster care is a major concern, little is known about child obesity and the factors associated with its risk for this population. The objective of this poster is to estimate the rate of childhood obesity in a cohort of youth entering care in 2008 and the child, investigation, and environmental correlates associated with obesity. The National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being Cohort 2 (NSCAW 2), a national study of children who have come into contact with the child welfare system, was used for this study. The results indicate that 21% of youth over the age of 1 in foster care, 28% in kinship care, and 37% in residential facilities are obese. Further, being African-American, sexually abused, and investigated in high poverty counties were all associated with higher rates of obesity. There were no gender or age differences, or differences in rates of obesity between children with and without severe emotional problems. These findings have significant implications for child well-being. Bearing in mind that poverty and child maltreatment are two leading causes of obesity, foster care providers and families will continue to disproportionately serve children who are obese.


Apr 2012 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Tamara Fuller and Martin Nieto

Despite their central importance in safety assessment and intervention, no research has examined the content of safety plans, or the relationship of safety plan type to investigation characteristics and investigation outcomes. The current study was conducted to answer the following questions: 1) Do safety plans include each of the elements that are required according to CERAP policy and procedures? Are some elements included more frequently than others? 2) What types of safety plans do workers develop during child protection investigations? 3) Do the safety plans developed by investigators vary by family or case characteristics? 4) Is there a relationship between the type of safety plan and child safety? The current evaluation provides an in-depth examination of safety plans written by Child Protective Services (CPS) investigators, develops a typology of the most commonly occurring safety plans, and examines the relationships between the safety plans and case characteristics as well as between safety plans and maltreatment recurrence.


Apr 2012 / Presentation / Differential Response    
Tamara Fuller

Presented at the 2012 Family Impact Seminar and Council on Contemporary Families (CCF) annual conference. As more and more states adopt Differential Response and other front-end child welfare system reforms, it is important to stay informed of the current evidence base for these practices. This presentation reviews the most recent evidence on the effectiveness of Differential response in relationship to: family engagement and satisfaction, service delivery, repeat maltreatment, family functioning and well-being, and cost-effectiveness. The importance of continued rigorous evaluation of Differential Response is emphasized.


Mar 2012 / Report / Differential Response    
Tamara Fuller, Kathleen Kearney, Sandra Lyons

This report summarizes information on the implementation of Differential Response (DR) in Illinois by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) as of July 1, 2011. The State of Illinois is one of three sites selected by the Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response in Child Protective Services (QIC-DR) to implement and evaluation a DR program, and the only one of the three to implement DR statewide. The Illinois Site Visit Report examines the exploration and adoption phases of DR implementation in Illinois; provides a detailed description of the DR program that was developed; presents findings on the fidelity of DR practice to the program described in policy and statute; and assesses the core competency and organizational drivers used in the first year of project development. Information for this report was collected through three primary methods: (1) document review, including legislation, rules, procedures, protocols, and contracts; (2) statewide focus groups with both workers and supervisors who provided DR services and conducted child protective investigations; and (3) individual interviews and a focus group with key informants critical to DR implementation and program development.


Mar 2012 / Report / Differential Response    
Tamara Fuller, Kathleen Kearney, Sandra Lyons

This executive summary provides a brief summary of the full Differential Response 2011 Site Visit Report. It includes an overview of the DR Program that was implemented statewide in Illinois on November 1, 2010. It also summarizes findings from the site visit data collection that occurred in June 2011. The Illinois Site Visit Report examines the exploration and adoption phases of DR implementation in Illinois; provides a detailed description of the DR program that was developed; presents findings on the fidelity of DR practice to the program described in policy and statute; and assesses the core competency and organizational drivers used in the first year of project development.


Mar 2012 / Journal Publication    
Theodore Cross, Ben Mathews, Lil Tonmyr, Debbie Scott and Catherine Ouimet

Children's exposure to domestic violence (EDV) has increasingly been considered a form of maltreatment. This article provides an overview of knowledge on the child welfare response to EDV, from research and program and policy development in Australia, Canada and the United States. Although EDV is underreported, almost half of caregivers in child maltreatment have experienced DV and more than a third of children in DV cases have witnessed it. Mandatory reporting has been tried in some jurisdictions, but can lead to inappropriate reports, strain on the child welfare system, and an insufficient response if not matched by adequate training and service availability. Improved child welfare response to EDV has involved increased collaboration and training, protocol development and dedicated EDV staffing. New initiatives have embedded the response to EDV within broader programs to protect children from violence. Differential response programs hold promise for addressing EDV.

Cross, T.P., Mathews, B., Tonmyr, L., Scott, D. & Ouimet, C. (2012). Child welfare policy and practice on children's exposure to domestic violence. Child Abuse & Neglect, 36, 210-216.

Feb 2012 / Presentation    
Kathleen A. Kearney and Mary Hollie

This presentation discusses the critical role collaboration places in the success of performance-based contracting. Information about how the State of Illinois developed goals and specific performance measures for residential care is presented with an emphasis on the impact in private sector agencies. The lessons learned from the first three years of implementation are shared. Presented at the Alliance for Children and Families' Senior Leadership Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana, February 27, 2012


Feb 2012 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Theodore Cross, Janet Fine, Lisa Jones and Wendy Walsh

Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs) are specialized multidisciplinary programs that respond to child abuse in over 700 communities across the U.S. This article is a response to two recent chapters in professional books that have criticized CACs for creating role conflict for mental health professionals, because of their work with criminal justice and child protection professionals in CACs as part of a coordinated response to child abuse. The article argues that these authors overestimate the risk of role conflict. CACs set a boundary between forensic interviewing and therapy. Many mental health professionals in CACs serve as consultants with no clinical responsibility and all are rarely involved in investigation. Participation in multidisciplinary teams focuses on children’s interests and well-being.

Cross, T.P., Fine, J., Jones, L.M. & Walsh, W.A. (2012). Mental health professionals in children’s advocacy centers: Is there role conflict? Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 21, 91-108.

Feb 2012 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Wendy Walsh, Theodore Cross and Lisa Jones

This study examined factors explaining parental doubt and blame of their child in 161 child sexual abuse cases. Parental blame and doubt was higher when youths were older, when youths were Black and non-Hispanic, and when alleged perpetrators were adolescents (versus adults). Practitioners need to recognize that adolescent victims may be at risk for parental doubt and blame, as may be victims of adolescent perpetrators.

Walsh, W.A., Cross, T.P. & Jones, L.M. (2012). Do parents blame or doubt their child more when sexually abused by adolescents versus adults?. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27, 453-470.

Jan 2012 / Research Brief    
Saijun Zhang & Mary K. Eamon

This brief reports on a study that shows how community violence is related to aggressive parenting which in turn is linked to children's aggressive behavior. In a sample of 2,247 mothers of 5 year olds, one-third of the effect of community violence on children's aggressive behavior was explained by the fact that mothers exposed to this violence were more aggressive in their parenting with children. Steps to address the effect of community violence are discussed.


Jan 2012 / Research Brief    
CFRC

This brief reports results of a survey of parents who had adopted children through DCFS about their families' service needs and financial situation post-adoption, and about the adoption subsidies they received. Most families obtained the services they need, but some service needs were unmet. Most families were limited financially, and for some, the subsidy was their primary source of income. Most families thought the subsidy was inadequate to meet their child's needs.


Jan 2012 / Research Brief / Outcomes Monitoring    
CFRC

Increasing the number of children placed in a single foster home is an understandable response to a shortage of foster care providers, but may stress both children and families, heightening the risk that children will need to be moved to a different foster home or will run away. In this report of an analysis of Illinois DCFS administrative data, the number of unrelated children in the home was significantly related to the risk of placement disruption and running away. However, the number of siblings living together in a foster home had no effect on the risk of disruption and actually was related to a lower risk of running away.


Jan 2012 / Presentation    
Saijun Zhang and Tamara Fuller

Using a sample of 1592 unmarried mothers from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCW), this study examines whether neighborhood dysfunction affects family structure transition and maternal stress, and whether these two factors subsequently affect paternal engagement. The structural equation modeling estimation indicates that (1) neighborhood dysfunction is negatively associated with family structure upward transition, but is positively associated with maternal stress; (2) family structure upward transition is positively associated with father engagement, but maternal stress is negatively associated with father engagement.


Jan 2012 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring, Safety and Risk    
CFRC

This annual report provides information on the performance of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services with regard to the outcomes for children who are in or at risk of substitute care. This monitoring report, required as part of the B.H. Consent Decree, examines measures of child safety, family and placement stability, continuity, permanence, and child and family well-being. Detailed break-downs of each indicator by child gender, race, age, and geographic region are provided in the appendix.


Jan 2012 / Research Brief / Safety and Risk    
Tamara L. Fuller and Martin Nieto

This research brief summarizes the results of an evaluation of the use of a safety assessment instrument, known as the Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol or CERAP, on rates of maltreatment recurrence in Illinois. Findings indicate that although most Child Protective Services (CPS) investigators complete a safety assessment at the initiation of the investigation, less than half complete a follow-up safety assessment at the conclusion of the investigation, even if conditions in the household led the investigator to conclude that household conditions were unsafe. Additional safety assessment at the conclusion of the investigation was associated with lower recurrence rates in the 6-month period following the initial maltreatment report date.


Jan 2012 / Research Brief / Differential Response    
Tamara Fuller

In November 2010, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services implemented a Differential Response (DR) approach to child protective services. The Department was also selected as one of three site funded to conduct of rigorous evaluation of the implementation and outcomes of DR, and the Children and Family Research Center was selected as the local site evaluator. This brief describes the Differential Response program that was implemented in Illinois and provides an overview of the comprehensive evaluation.


Jan 2012 / Journal Publication    
The Journey of Dually-Involved Youth: The Description and Prediction of Rereporting and Recidivism
Joseph P. Ryan, Hui Huang and Denise Herz

Dually-involved youth refers to youth that are simultaneously receiving services from both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. The current study focused on a sample of dually-involved youth (N = 1148). The study examined the characteristics of dually-involved youth and reported and predicted the incidence of subsequent maltreatment and re-offending. We found that 8% of dually-involved youth had at least one arrest before entering child welfare system, 32% experienced new reports of maltreatment referrals subsequent to arrest, and 56% were charged with a second offense (i.e., recidivated). The court outcomes received in delinquency court were associated with both rereporting and recidivism. These findings support the development of a shared services model for child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

Huang, H., Ryan, J.P., & Herz, D. (2012). The journey of dually-involved youth: The description and prediction of rereporting and recidivism. Children and Youth Services Review, 34, 254-260.

Jan 2012 / Presentation    
Ji-Young Kang, Martin Nieto, & Tamara Fuller

Utilizing Illinois Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System database, this study aims to examine 1) if children with different single and multiple subtypes of child neglect have higher risk of re-report than those with physical abuse; 2) if there are differences in the time length to the re-report among children reported with single and multiple subtypes of child neglect compared to physical abuse.


Nov 2011 / Presentation / Differential Response    
Tamara Fuller & Megan Paceley

Despite being a central concept of most family-centered service interventions, including Differential Response, very little is known about the best ways to engage families in child welfare services. The small amount of literature that exists typically focuses on engaging families in mental health or substance abuse treatment, rather than the mandated or involuntary services often provided by child welfare. What little evidence has been collected within child welfare points to very low or uneven levels of parent engagement, even within interventions designed to encourage parent participation. This presentation highlighted the results of a qualitative study of family engagement strategies used by both DR caseworkers and investigators in Illinois. Individual interviews were conducted with approximately 40 caregivers who provided in-depth accounts of their experiences and responses. Responses were transcribed and analyzed to reveal those strategies that were most effective (and least effective) in making families feel engaged.


Nov 2011 / Journal Publication / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Children with Behavioral, Non-Behavioral, and Multiple Disabilities, and the Risk of Out-of-Home Placement DisruptionWEB
Jesse J. Helton

This study examined the relative risk of placement disruption for 3 - 10 year-old children placed in out-of-home care based on the biological relatedness of the placement caregiver and child disability status: no disability, a non-behavioral disability only, a behavioral disability only, or both a non-behavioral and behavioral disability.

Jesse J. Helton. (2011). Children with behavioral, non-behavioral, and multiple disabilities, and the risk of out-of-home placement disruption, Child Abuse & Neglect, 35, 956-964.

Nov 2011 / Presentation / Differential Response    
Ji-Young Kang

This study tries to understand families' existing stressors at the case opening in DR in Illinois. It presents the amount and types of stressors families have at the case opening in DR based on phone surveys with caregivers in Illinois DR.


Oct 2011 / Presentation    
Ji-Young Kang & Tamara Fuller

This study examines whether depending of the level of stress of caregivers, different factors predict social support. To know whether there are different mechanisms of receiving social support depending on caregivers' individual, family, and environmental characteristics are considered using data from the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN).


Sep 2011 / Journal Publication    
Parenting, Policies, and Practice: Christian Influence on Child Welfare in America
Schreiber, J. C.

Christianity has been integral to the development of America's child welfare policy in two ways: Christian beliefs have influenced evolving American cultural norms about parenting, and Christians have responded to children whose needs were not met by their parents, both by creating institutions and agencies and by influencing policies. Christian influences were explicit when Protestant Christianity was the cultural norm, but its influence is still present in the secular child welfare systems today. Since cultural norms are slow to change, changes are more apparent when taking a broad scope. To portray the variations in the role of Christianity in child welfare policy, this article compares three changes in centuries in American history: the Post-Colonial Era (late 1700-early 1800s), the Progressive Era (1890s-1920s), and what I refer to as the Modern Era (late 1900s-early 2000s). In colonial times, children were perceived to be the property of their fathers, and harsh physical punishment was deemed religiously necessary for successful child rearing. Over the past three centuries, mothers and children have developed more rights, limits were placed on physical discipline, and cultural values of self-actualization and independence have gradually replaced those of unquestioning obedience to authority. The first societal responses to poor parenting focused on poverty, and with time they evolved into child protection. Christians founded the first institutions that were focused on children -- orphanages. Currently, state public child welfare systems assume primary responsibility for child welfare, and are necessarily nonreligious. However, religious issues are still relevant. For example, many religious child welfare organizations receive public funding for their work through subcontracts.

Schreiber, J. C. (2011). Parenting, policies, and practice: Christian influence on child welfare in America. Social Work & Christianity, 38, 293-314.

Aug 2011 / Presentation    
Kathleen A. Kearney, Erwin McEwen, Brice Bloom-Ellis, Mary Hollie

This presentation sets forth findings from the Striving for Excellence project on the use of performance based contracting for agencies providing residential treatment services to youth in the Illinois child welfare system. The presentation includes a project overview, the collaborative planning process used to develop the performance measures, the risk adjustment model, results and lessons learned from implementation case studies to date.


Aug 2011 / Presentation    
Jesse J. Helton, Jill Schreiber, Tamara Fuller, Kathleen Kearney

The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the very basics of mixed methods design and methodological rigor, and provide two examples of recent multi-site, state-wide mixed method studies in Illinois. This workshop will touch on some of mixed method's background and tensions, most useful theoretical perspective for policy analysis, research purposes, and research designs. We will emphasize how a "mixed method way of thinking" can be used early in the research process to construct an integrated qualitative/quantitative design. Throughout the workshop we will highlight two recent mixed methods studies. The first will describe the mixed methods used in a multi-site evaluation of an initiative to expand the use of performance based contracting to children's residential treatment, Independent and Transitional Living services in Illinois. The second will describe the mixed methods used in a four year evaluation of the implementation and effectiveness of Differential Response in Illinois. In the end, the audience will have a better global understanding of how a "mixed methods way of thinking" embraces child welfare's complexity, and allows the methodology to be as complex as the social actors themselves.


Aug 2011 / Presentation    
Erwin McEwen, Bob Goerge, Dana Weiner and Tami Fuller

The need for effective partnerships between public child welfare agencies and research institutions has never been greater. Although some states and localities have created child welfare research partnerships with universities, there has been little discussion of the mechanisms that make these research partnerships work. By any account, the State of Illinois has been successful in leveraging the resources of its academic partners to build evidence, strengthen practice, and inform policy. This presentation at the 2011 National Child Welfare Evaluation Summit described the key elements that have allowed Illinois to both build and sustain their effective university-agency collaborations. The presentation also highlighted three research partnerships in Illinois and how each partner works with the Department to provide data that informs practice and improves outcomes.


Aug 2011 / Journal Publication    
Parenting Practices as Mediators of the Effect of Mothers' Community Violence Exposure on Young Children's Aggressive Behavior
Saijun Zhang & Mary Keegan Eamon

The authors analyzed data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to investigate the direct and indirect effects of mothers' community violence exposure on young children's aggressive behavior. The findings indicate that mothers' community violence exposure was positively associated with psychologically and physically aggressive parenting and child aggression. Aggressive parenting practices were positively related to child aggression, and partially mediated the effect of mothers' violence exposure on child aggressive behaviors.

Zhang, S. & Eamon, M. K. (2011). Parenting practices as mediators of the effect of mothers' community violence exposure on young children's aggressive behavior. Families in Society, 92, 336-342.

Aug 2011 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Jesse J. Helton

This research brief examines rates of obesity and underweight for children with a substantiated investigation of maltreatment in Illinois. Findings show that 24% of Illinois maltreated children are obese, a rate 1.5 greater than children in the general population. African-American children entering substitute care following the investigation are at the highest risk for being obese. Findings also show that 7% of Illinois maltreated children are underweight, a rate over twice that of children in the general population; 6-11 year-olds and male children at the greatest risk for underweight in Illinois. A smaller than expected percentage of caregivers of underweight or obese maltreated children think their child has a weight problem.


Jul 2011 / Presentation    
Kathleen A. Kearney, Mary Hollie

This workshop discusses lessons learned from statewide implementation of performance based contracting for residential treatment, independent and transitional living programs in Illinois. Challenges faced by both the public child welfare system and private agencies are examined. Specific strategies employed by a large, multi-service child welfare agency to adapt to a performance-based contracting environment are highlighted to give a "real world" example of implementation. (Presented July 26, 2011 at the Foster Family-Based Treatment Association 25th Annual Conference in Orlando, FL.)


Jul 2011 / Presentation    
Kathleen A. Kearney & Anita Horner

The American child welfare system is adopting a more family centered practice approach which recognizes the complexity of working with families with multiple service needs. This presentation discusses research on the use of power and its impact upon engaging families involved in the child welfare system. Promising practices which have incorporated family engagement strategies are highlighted to help courts in their dependency court improvement efforts, including Differential Response (DR) and Family Group Decision-Making (FGDM). (Presented July 25, 2011 at the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges 74th Annual Conference in New York, NY.)


Jul 2011 / Presentation    
Ted Cross, Eun Koh, Nancy Rolock and Jennifer Eblen-Manning

A troubling percentage of children in substitute care bounce from placement to placement, with a negative effect on both their chances of having a permanent home and their well-being in both childhood and adulthood. This presentation reports results of the Illinois Multiple Move Study, a joint CFRC-Department of Children and Family Services analysis of the reasons underlying instability in a sample including the most unstable cases in the state (click the link for the complete Multiple Move study report in PDF format). Child behavior, caregiver factors and system and policy issues all contributed to instability in most unstable cases. The presentation identifies a number of the specific triggers leading to multiple moves and discusses some ways to adjust practice to prevent placement instability.


Jul 2011 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault, Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Ted Cross, Jesse Helton & Emmeline Chuang

Some advocates argue that police too rarely conduct criminal investigations in Child Protective Services sexual abuse cases, while policy regarding police involvement in CPS physical abuse and neglect cases is not well developed. However, little research has examined how often police investigate in CPS cases and what factors predict involvement. Using two cohorts of cases (1999-2001 and 2008-2009) from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, a national probability study of children involved in CPS investigations, this presentation examines the frequency of criminal investigations in CPS cases and the factors predicting criminal investigation. Across cohorts, criminal investigations took place in 21% to 24% of all cases, 47% to 49% of sexual abuse cases, 24% to 27% of physical abuse cases and 15% to 18% of neglect cases. Police investigated more often when caseworkers reported greater risk and harm to the child and greater evidence, but variables like child age and relationship to perpetrator were not significant. Which county was involved, however, was a major predictor, with enormous variation in rates of police investigation across counties. Thus the likelihood of a criminal investigation depends on severity but also agency differences in practice. Equity suggests the need to discuss these differences.


Jun 2011 / Journal Publication    
Allegations of Maltreatment and Delinquency: Does Risk of Juvenile Arrest Vary Substantiation Status?
Yu-Ling Chiu, Joseph Ryan & Denise Herz

There exists a healthy debate about the process and value of substantiation in child welfare. Much of this debate focuses on understanding whether substantiated and unsubstantiated allegations of maltreatment share equal risk of recurrence. In the current study we seek to help advance the debate around substantiation and future risk by extending analyses and outcomes to include official records of juvenile delinquency and to determine whether the relationship between substantiation and delinquency varies by race and gender. Our sample includes 38,223 youth between 9 and 16 years of age from Los Angeles County. We use propensity score matching to create relatively equivalent groups and use Cox Regression to model the risk of juvenile arrest. The results indicate that the relative risk ratio of arrest is 2.2 times greater for youth associated with a substantiated report of maltreatment as compared with similar youth associated with an unsubstantiated report of maltreatment. Older youth, and African American youth are also at an increased risk of juvenile arrest. These findings indicate that the process of substantiation is not without merit - as investigators and supervisors are clearly able to distinguish cases based on risks and strengths.

Chiu, Y. L., Ryan, J. P, & Herz, D. C. (2011). Allegations of Maltreatment and Delinquency: Does Risk of Juvenile Arrest vary Substantiation Status? Children and Youth Services Review, 33, 855-860.

May 2011 / Journal Publication / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Jesse Helton and Ted Cross

Previous research suggests a curvilinear relationship between child disability and physical abuse, with children with mild impairments at greater risk than both children with severe impairments and superior functioning. Using a national probability sample of families investigated for maltreatment (N = 1675), this study tested for both linear and curvilinear relationships of child functioning to parental physical assault. Linear relationships were found between problem behaviors and minor and severe assault, and between social skills and minor assault: the more impaired the level of child functioning, the greater the risk. Curvilinear relationships were found in which children with mildly impaired or average language skills were at greater risk for minor assault than both children with severe impairment or above average and superior skills. Children with superior daily-living skills were at lower risk for severe assault than all other children. Implications for understanding processes underlying parental physical assault of children with impairments are discussed.

Helton, J. & Cross, T.P. (2011). The relationship of child functioning to parental physical assault: Linear and curvilinear models. Child Maltreatment, 16, 126-136.

Apr 2011 / Presentation    
Kathleen A. Kearney and Mary Hollie

This workshop discusses the leadership challenges inherent when bringing about large scale system reform and the collaborative planning process required in both the public and private sectors. An overview and findings from the Illinois Striving for Excellence project expanding the use of performance based to residential treatment agencies are presented. Presented at the American Association of Children's Residential Center's 55th Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.


Apr 2011 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Theodore P. Cross and Jesse J. Helton

Early childhood education programs show promise for helping ameliorate the negative effects of growing up with maltreatment, environmental risk, and disadvantage. A new CFRC study shows that child maltreatment victims involved with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services are 1.3 times more likely than comparable children in the rest of the country to be enrolled in these programs.


Apr 2011 / Presentation / Differential Response    
Tamara Fuller

The State of Illinois implemented Differential Response (DR) on November 1, 2010, and is rigorously evaluating both the implementation process and the intended and unintended outcomes of the intervention. The DR evaluation is comprehensive, including multiple surveys, focus groups, interviews, and administrative data collection. The amount of time and effort required of such evaluation can be a burden on front-line staff, who are often called upon to help with the data collection. This presentation, given at the four regional Differential Response summits in April 2010, explained the importance of evaluation and the valuable information that will result from careful data collection efforts.


Apr 2011 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Tamara Fuller and Martin Nieto

Findings from past evaluation have indicated that CERAP completion beyond the first investigation milestone ranges from moderate to poor. Significant changes to safety assessment practice are scheduled to occur in 2012 with the implementation of the enhanced safety model. Implementation of the new assessment practices may benefit from a better understanding of how investigators and caseworkers are currently using the CERAP safety assessment tool. The current study therefore examines trends in CERAP completion in investigation and intact family cases.


Mar 2011 / Presentation    
Jesse Helton

Many youth report assaulting a family member and domestic battery represents a sizable proportion of juvenile arrests. However, little is known about those youth involved in the juvenile justice system because of a domestic assault. The purpose of this study is to address the following questions about youth who are arrested for domestic battery: (1) are these youth different in terms of demographic characteristics and disposition compared to youth arrested for other types of offenses; (2) are these youth more likely to re-offend compared to youth arrested for other offenses; (3) due to the nature of their offense (i.e., family dispute), are these youth more likely to be placed in detention rather than returned home to their parents; and (4) has the child welfare system been involved with families of youth arrested for domestic battery prior to the arrest, and does the involvement reduce the likelihood of re-offending? Results show that once a youth is arrested for a domestic dispute their juvenile justice experience is disproportionately punitive, leading to a greater risk of reoffending and further system penetration. Presented at the Midwest Socialogical Society Annual Meeting on March 26, 2011.


Jan 2011 / Presentation    
Saijun Zhang and Tamara Fuller

Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, this study examines the differentiated influence of neighborhood disorder on paternal engagement of resident (married/cohabiting) and nonresident fathers. The findings suggest that mothers and children of nonresident father families are more likely to reside in more problematic communities than that of resident father families. Multivariate analysis indicates that problematic community environment is negatively associated with paternal engagement of nonresidential fathers, but not with that of resident fathers. (Presented at the 15th Annual Conference of Society for Social Work and Research, Tampa, FL)


Jan 2011 / Presentation    
Joseph P. Ryan, Hui Huang and Jeanne Marsh

Presented at the Society for Social Work and Research Annual Conference, Tampa FL, January 2011.


Jan 2011 / Presentation    
Joseph P. Ryan, Hui Huang and Yu Ling Chiu

Presented at the Society for Social Work and Research Annual Conference, Tampa FL, January 2011.


Jan 2011 / Presentation    
Jiyoung Kang

This study examines if different factors predict service use of caregivers at risk of child maltreatment depending on their perceived service needs. The study used data from the Longitudinal Studies in Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN).


Jan 2011 / Presentation    
Hui Huang, Joseph P. Ryan, Sam Choi and Jeanne Marsh

Presented at the Society for Social Work and Research Annual Conference, Tampa FL, January 2011.


Dec 2010 / Research Brief    
Nancy Rolock, Eun Koh, Theodore P. Cross and Jennifer Eblen-Manning

To understand placement instability in foster care, a CFRC study compared matched samples of stable and unstable cases from the Department of Illinois Children and Families and identified key factors to explain the movement of some children through multiple homes during their stay.


Dec 2010 / Report    
Kathleen A. Kearney

To understand placement instability in foster care, a CFRC study compared matched samples of stable and unstable cases from the Department of Illinois Children and Families and identified key factors to explain the movement of some children through multiple homes during their stay.


Nov 2010 / Presentation / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Jill Schreiber

Religion is an understudied factor in child welfare in general and in the foster care system in specific. There are two reasons that religion needs to be considered in child welfare: 1) both foster children and foster parents claim that religion is important, and 2) increased religiosity is correlated with improved outcomes for adolescents in the general population and moderates negative effects faced by disadvantaged youth. Data from a nationally representative survey, the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being (NSCAW), show that foster children and foster parents are attending church at a high rate. The question remains, does the religious attendance of foster parents and foster youth affect outcome measures. (Presented workshop at the North American Association of Christians in Social Work Convention, Durham, NC, November 13, 2010.)


Nov 2010 / Presentation / Differential Response    
Womazetta Jones, William Wolfe, Tamara Fuller, & Kathleen Kearney

This presentation describes the lessons learned from the first year of statewide implementation of Differential Response in Illinois. Highlights from the lessons learned included the importance of engaging key stakeholders in a collaborative planning process in determining program design; recognizing the role of core implementation drivers in establishing a successful model; modifying and utilizing SACWIS for effective data collection; and designing a statewide randomized control trial to inform both child protection policy and practice. Presented at the Fifth Annual Conference on Differential Response in Child Welfare, Anaheim, CA, November 10, 2010.


Oct 2010 / Presentation    
J. Hall, T. Gartstka, D, DeStefano, & Kathleen A. Kearney

This panel discussion presents cross-site and local findings from the national demonstration sites using performance based contracting to improve outcomes for children and families in Illinois, Florida and Missouri.


Oct 2010 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Daniel Smith, Genelle Sawyer, Lisa Jones, Theodore Cross, Michael McCart, and M. Elizabeth Ralston

Maternal support is an important factor in predicting outcomes following disclosure of child sexual abuse; however, definition of the construct has been unclear and existing measures of maternal support are utilized inconsistently and have limited psychometric data. The purpose of this study was to develop a reliable and valid mother-report measure for assessing maternal support following the disclosure of child sexual abuse.

Smith D. W., Sawyer, G. K., Jones, L. M., Cross, T. P., McCart, M. R., and Ralston M. E. (2010). Mother reports of maternal support following child sexual abuse: Preliminary psychometric data on the Maternal Self-Report Support Questionnaire (MSSQ). Child Abuse & Neglect, 34, 784-792.

Sep 2010 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring, Safety and Risk    
CFRC

This annual report provides information on the performance of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services with regard to the outcomes for children who are in or at risk of substitute care. This monitoring report, required as part of the B.H. Consent Decree, examines measures of child safety, family and placement stability, continuity, permanence, and child and family well-being. Detailed break-downs of each indicator by child gender, race, age, and geographic region are provided in the appendix.


Aug 2010 / Journal Publication    
Kinship Foster Care and the Risk of Juvenile Delinquency
Joseph Ryan, Jim Hong, Denise Herz, & Pedro Hernandez

Formal kinship care represents the placement of a maltreated or otherwise vulnerable youth in the care and protection of a known relative or adult with a recognized kin bond. The practice of identifying and utilizing kin placements in child welfare has significantly increased over the last two decades. In part, the increased use of kinship care reflects the priorities, preferences, and mechanisms specified in federal legislation. A fairly broad literature demonstrates the value of kin homes in child welfare. Yet significant gaps in the understanding of kin homes remain, especially with regard to youth outcomes across allied service systems. In the current study we use administrative records from a large urban county and propensity score matching to investigate the relationship between kinship care placements in child welfare and the risk of delinquency. The sample (n = 13,396) is diverse and our design is longitudinal in that we follow youth through child welfare and juvenile systems for several years. The results indicate that the relative risk of delinquency is significantly greater for African American and white male adolescents served in kin homes. For Hispanic males and Hispanic females, kin homes are associated with a decreased likelihood of delinquency. There is no kin placement effect associated with African American or white females.

Ryan, J. P., Hong, J. S., Herz, D., & Hernandez, P. M. (2010). Kinship foster care and the risk of juvenile delinquency. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 1823-1830.

Aug 2010 / Journal Publication    
Delinquency in Child Welfare: Investigating Kinship Care Effects
Joseph P. Ryan, Pedro Hernandez, Jun-Sung Hong & Denise C. Herz

Formal kinship care represents the placement of a maltreated or otherwise vulnerable youth in the care and protection of a known relative or adult with a recognized kin bond. The practice of identifying and utilizing kin placements in child welfare has significantly increased over the last two decades. In part, the increased use of kinship care reflects the priorities, preferences, and mechanisms specified in federal legislation. A fairly broad literature demonstrates the value of kin homes in child welfare. Yet significant gaps in the understanding of kin homes remain, especially with regard to youth outcomes across allied service systems. In the current study we use administrative records from a large urban county and propensity score matching to investigate the relationship between kinship care placements in child welfare and the risk of delinquency. The sample (n = 13,396) is diverse and our design is longitudinal in that we follow youth through child welfare and juvenile systems for several years. The results indicate that the relative risk of delinquency is signficantly greater for African American and white male adolescents served in kin homes. For Hispanic males and Hispanic females, kin homes are associated with a decreased likelihood of delinquency. There is no kin placement effect associated with African American or white females.

Ryan, J. P., Hernandez, P., Hong, J., and Herz, D. (2010). Kinship foster care and the risk of juvenile delinquency. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 1823-1830

Aug 2010 / Presentation    
Kearney, K.A., Bloom-Ellis, B., McEwen, E., Murray, D., Teeple, K., Berglind, M., Hollie, M., Vimont, M. & Rousey, K.

This panel discussion by both public and private sector child welfare leaders responsible for the implementation of the Striving for Excellence project presents the project overview and lessons learned during the exploration, planning, and initial implementation phases of the project. From the 4th National Summit on Public-Private Partnership, San Antonio, Texas.


Jul 2010 / Presentation    
Collins-Camargo, C., Haslag, L., Kearney, K.A. & Schuler, C.

This panel presentation from the National Quality Improvement Center on the Privatization of Child Welfare Services includes findings from the Illinois, Florida, and Missouri demonstration sites and highlights the lessons learned during project implementation. From the 13th Annual National Child Welfare Data and Technology Conference, Bethesda, Maryland.


Jul 2010 / Presentation    
Womazetta Jones, William Wolfe, Tamara Fuller, & Kathleen Kearney

This presentation describes the lessons learned from the first year of statewide implementation of Differential Response in Illinois. Highlights from the lessons learned included the importance of engaging key stakeholders in a collaborative planning process in determining program design; recognizing the role of core implementation drivers in establishing a successful model; modifying and utilizing SACWIS for effective data collection; and designing a statewide randomized control trial to inform both child protection policy and practice.


Jul 2010 / Presentation / Differential Response    
Brett Brown, Kathy Chase, William Wolfe, Womazetta Jones, Tamara Fuller & Tony Loman

Differential response (DR) is a promising child welfare reform being rigorously evaluated in a number of states using random control trials (RCT). This workshop will present work from ongoing and recently completed RCT evaluations of DR. Issues covered will include: modifications to child welfare administrative data systems to accommodate random assignment, tracking cases, and DR data collection; developing complementary non-administrative data resources for evaluation; data design for cross-site comparisons; and successful strategies for promoting cooperative work between SACWIS staff, evaluators, and program personnel. Presented at the 13th National Child Welfare Data and Technology Conference, Washington DC, July 20, 2010.


Jul 2010 / Presentation / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Jesse Helton and Theodore Cross

Previous research on childhood disability and maltreatment has assumed that the risk of physical abuse has a linear relationship to level of functionality, so that the more disabled children are, the greater their risk of abuse. Other research has indicated that a yet untested curvilinear relationship may be present, where children with modest difficulties may be at greater risk. Using a cross-sectional dataset of families who have been investigated for maltreatment, this study examines the association between separate continuous measures of functionality - behavior, language, social skills, and daily-living skills - and the prevalence of minor and severe physical assault for children ages 3 to 10. Linear relationships emerged where children with many behavioral and social difficulties were more likely to experience assault compared to children without those difficulties. Negative curvilinear relationships emerged where children with modest language, social, and daily-living skills were more likely to experience an assault compared to children with many or little to no difficulties with these skills. Theoretical explanations as to why children at different levels of various types of functionality may be more or less likely to be assaulted will be discussed, focusing on the role of stress, parental expectations, and knowledge of child development within a bioecological model. Presented at the International Family Violence and Child Victimization Research Conference, Portsmouth, NH, July 13, 2010


Jul 2010 / Presentation / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Ted Cross and Keith Smith

This workshop provides a primer for prospective users of the data set of the National Survey of Child and Adolescents Well-Being (NSCAW), the largest and most ambitious study ever conducted tracking services, well-being and outcomes for children involved in child maltreatment investigations.


Jun 2010 / Presentation / Safety and Risk, Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Theodore P. Cross, Brett Drake, Tamera L. Fuller & Martin Nieto

The decision to substantiate a report of child maltreatment is one of the most important in the the child welfare field, but the latest knowledge about what underlies the decision to substantiate and how it relates to future outcomes is not widely known. This workshop--led by authors of a special section on substantiation in the journal Child Maltreatment -- provided an overview of current research on substantiation and discusses its meaning for policy. Data suggest that the substantiation decision is usually based on a combination of the harm the child is thought to have experienced and the evidence for maltreatment, although this model does not fit well in a small proportion of cases. Most worrisome are the 9% of child protective cases in which children reportedly suffered moderate to severe harm but the case was not substantiated. The workshop reviews the mixed evidence for the validity of substantiation and discusses the debate on substantiation as a gatekeeper for decision-making and a method of measuring child maltreatment. (Presented at the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) 18th Annual National Colloquium, New Orleans, LA, June 23-26, 2010)


Jun 2010 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Theodore P. Cross, Tonya Lippert, Lisa M. Jones & Wendy A. Walsh

Suspect confessions in child sexual abuse investigations help establish the veracity of children's disclosures and empower a speedy, just and healing response. But little is known about the frequency of confessions and what influences suspects to confess. Using data from the Multi-Site Evaluation of Children's Advocacy Centers, this study examines these aspects of confession in a sample of 282 cases in which investigators believed abuse had occurred across four communities. (Presented at the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children 18th Annual National Colloquium, New Orleans, LA.)


Jun 2010 / Journal Publication    
Helping Former Foster Youth Graduate from College Through Campus Support Programs
Amy Dworsky & Alfred Perez

This exploratory study examines the implementation of campus support programs designed to provide financial, academic, and other types of supports to students who had aged out of foster care. Data were collected from program administrators and student participants in California and Washington State. Telephone interviews were conducted with 10 campus support program administrators that covered a variety of domains. Student participants from 8 of the 10 programs completed a web-based survey that asked about their perceptions of and experiences with the program. Recommendations for moving forward with a methodologically sound impact evaluation of campus support programs are discussed.

Dworsky, A., & Perez, A. (2010). Helping former foster youth graduate from college through campus support programs. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 255-263.

Jun 2010 / Journal Publication    
Challenges Facing Crossover Youth: An Examination of Juvenile-Justice Decision Making and Recidivism
Denise C. Herz, Joseph P. Ryan, and Shay Bilchik

Although a substantial amount of research documents the increased likelihood of maltreated youths to engage in delinquency, very little is known about them once they cross into delinquency. These youths are often referred to as "crossover youth," "dual jurisdiction," or "dually involved" youth, and based on a growing amount of research, it appears these youths face a number of challenges. They have significant educational problems, high rates of placement changes and high rates of substance abuse and mental health problems, and when they enter the juvenile justice system, they are more likely to stay longer and penetrate deeper into the system then their nonmaltreated counterparts. Using data from Los Angeles County (N = 581), the purpose of this study is to identify what characteristics among a crossover population are more likely to result in receiving harsher dispositions and higher recidivism rates.

Herz, D.C., Ryan, J.P., & Bilchik, S. (2010). Challenges facing crossover youth: An examination of juvenile-justice decision making and recidivism. Family Court Review, 48, 305-321.

Jun 2010 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Lisa M. Jones, Kathryn E. Atoro, Wendy A. Walsh, Theodore P. Cross, Amy L. Shadoin, Suzanne Magnuson

Qualitative responses by caregivers (n = 203) and youth (aged 8 and older; n = 65) about their experiences with sexual abuse investigations were analyzed in conjunction with quantitative ratings of satisfaction. Respondents described mostly high levels of satisfaction, although dissatisfaction was reported with some key aspects of investigations. The features cited as worse than expected by caregivers were the investigators' commitment to prosecuting the alleged offender and the absence of clear and regular communication about the status of the case. The features mentioned most often by caregivers as better than expected were the emotional support and interviewing skills of investigators. Youth focused both praise and criticism on investigators' interviewing skills. There were relatively few complaints by either caregivers or youth about the duration of the investigation, medical exams, lack of services, or failures of interagency communication, areas of considerable reform in the past several decades. Implications for investigator training and reform initiatives are discussed.

Jones, L. M., Atoro, K. E., Walsh, W. A., Cross, T. P., Shadoin, A. L., & Magnuson, S. (2010). Nonoffending caregiver and youth experiences with child sexual abuse investigations. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 25, 291-314.

Jun 2010 / Journal Publication    
Performance-Based Contracting in Residential Care and Treatment: Driving Policy and Practice Change Through Public-Private Partnership in Illinois
Kathleen A. Kearney, Erwin McEwen, Brice Bloom-Ellis & Neil Jordan

The National Quality Improvement Center on the Privatization of Child Welfare Services selected Illinois as a demonstration site in 2007 to evaluate performance-based contracting in residential treatment services. This article discusses the first two years of project implementation including developing residential treatment performance indicators, adjusting those indicators for risk at the provider level, and setting agency-specific benchmarks, as well as the project's fiscal foundation and related systemic improvements to support policy and practice change resulting from this initiative.

Kearney, K.A., McEwen, E., Bloom-Ellis, B., & Jordan, N. (2010). Performance-based contracting in residential care and treatment: Driving policy and practice change through public-private partnership in Illinois. Child Welfare, 89, 39-55.

Jun 2010 / Journal Publication    
Permanency Outcomes of Children in Kinship and Non-Kinship Foster Care: Testing the External Validity of Kinship Effects
Eun Koh

The study investigates the permanency outcomes of children in kinship foster homes in comparison to children in non-kinship foster homes. To examine whether the effects of kinship placements are generalizable across states, the study utilizes the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) data obtained for five states that participated in the Fostering Court Improvement project: Arizona, Connecticut, Missouri, Ohio, and Tennessee. The study also addresses the issue of selection biases with the use of propensity score matching (PSM) methods. A partially longitudinal file was created from the states' AFCARS 6-month submissions from March 2000 to September 2005. The PSM method created the matched samples of the study, balancing the mean covariates between kin and non-kin children. Analyses of survival times were conducted to investigate the permanency outcomes of children in kinship and non-kinship foster homes, using unmatched and matched samples. In the study, permanency outcomes include legal permanence and placement stability. The study finds that the direction and the size of kinship effects vary across the states with respect to the outcome of legal permanence, but positive advantages of kinship placements are reported for placement stability in all five states. Implications of the findings for practice and policy are discussed.

Koh, E. (2010). Permanency outcomes of children in kinship and non-kinship foster care: Testing the external validity of kinship effects. Children and Youth Services Review, 33, 389-398.

Jun 2010 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Tonya Lippert, Theodore Cross, Lisa Jones, & Wendy Walsh

Increasing the number of suspects who give true confessions of sexual abuse serves justice and reduces the burden of the criminal justice process on child victims. With data from four communities, this study examined confession rates and predictors of confession of child sexual abuse over the course of criminal investigations (final N = 282). Overall, 30% of suspects confessed partially or fully to the crime. This rate was consistent across the communities and is very similar to the rates of suspect confession of child sexual abuse found by previous research, although lower than that from a study focused on a community with a vigorous practice of polygraph testing. In a multivariate analysis, confession was more likely when suspects were younger and when more evidence of abuse was available, particularly child disclosure and corroborative evidence. These results suggest the difficulty of obtaining confession but also the value of methods that facilitate child disclosure and seek corroborative evidence, for increasing the odds of confession.

Lippert, T., Cross, T. P., Jones, L., & Walsh, W. (2010). Suspect confession of child sexual abuse to investigators. Child Maltreatment, 15, 161-170.

Jun 2010 / Journal Publication / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Transitioning from Informal to Formal Substitute Care Following Maltreatment Investigation
Park, J.M. & Helton, J.

This study examined associated factors of placement into formal substitute care following a maltreatment investigation and the relationship between children's entry into formal substitute care and changes in caregivers. The sample from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being included 3038 children who lived with biological parents or were placed in informal kinship and non-kinship care at the close of investigation. Placement in informal kinship and non-kinship care following a maltreatment investigation, younger age of a child, previous CPS reports, and poverty status were associated with greater odds of subsequent entry into formal substitute care. Informal kinship care following an investigation appears to be a placeholder and many of the children in such an arrangement are incorporated into the formal substitute care system. The transition from informal to formal substitute care, however, does not necessarily mean a disruption in children's placement. It can be beneficial to start foster parent training at an early stage of the assessment and preparation process for informal kin and non-kin caregivers because many of them are to become foster caregivers. It may also be advantageous to develop a standardized tool to assess informal caregivers' service needs, and make training and support services responsive to those particular needs.

Park, J. M., & Helton, J. (2010). Transitioning from informal to formal substitute care following maltreatment investigation. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 998-1003.

Jun 2010 / Journal Publication    
Low-Income Single Mothers' Community Violence Exposure and Aggressive Parenting Practices
Saijun Zhang & Steve Anderson

This study examined the association between maternal community violence exposure and parenting practices, with a sample of low-income single mothers from the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study (FFCW) and related in-home child survey. Psychologically aggressive and physically aggressive parenting practices were measured with two subscales derived from the Parent-Child Conflict Tactics Scales (CTSPC). Community violence exposure was measured with items indicating being a witness to or victim of community violence. Bivariate analysis indicated that the intensity of community violence exposure was positively associated with both types of aggressive parenting practices. In the multivariate analysis, mothers with moderate and high levels of community violence exposure were 2.1 times and 2.4 times, respectively, more likely to engage in a higher level of physically aggressive parenting, when compared to mothers with no exposure to violence. Such rates were 1.7 and 1.8 times higher with respect to psychologically aggressive parenting practices. The findings highlight the need for expanding research to better understand the association between community violence and the wellbeing of children and families, and suggest the importance of supporting low-income single mothers who have been exposed to community violence through effective parenting programs and other community social services.

Zhang, S., & Anderson, S. G. (2010). Low-income single mothers' community violence exposure and aggressive parenting practices. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 889-895.

Jun 2010 / Report    
Eun Koh and Nancy Rolock

Adoption Preservation, Advocacy and Linkage (APAL) is a needs assessment outreach program implemented by private agencies in and around the Chicago area. The program is targeted at families with children who exited foster care to subsidized adoptive or guardianship homes. The Maintaining Adoption Connections (MAC) program is operated through a different set of private agencies and provides services to the families identified through the APAL outreach program. This report evaluates the first year of implementation of the APAL/MAC programs, which is from October 1, 2007 to September 30, 2008.


Apr 2010 / Report    
Kathleen A. Kearney

Adoption Preservation, Advocacy and Linkage (APAL) is a needs assessment outreach program implemented by private agencies in and around the Chicago area. The program is targeted at families with children who exited foster care to subsidized adoptive or guardianship homes. The Maintaining Adoption Connections (MAC) program is operated through a different set of private agencies and provides services to the families identified through the APAL outreach program. This report evaluates the first year of implementation of the APAL/MAC programs, which is from October 1, 2007 to September 30, 2008.


Apr 2010 / Presentation    
Kearney, K.A. & Vimont, M.

This presentation discusses the collaborative planning process used to develop the Striving for Excellence project which expands the use of performance based contracting to residential agencies. Findings to date from the project's evaluation are discussed. Presentation at the Alliance for Children and Families Annual Child Welfare Leadership Conference, Boston, MA.


Apr 2010 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Tamara Fuller, Martin Nieto

Previous evaluations of the safety assessment instrument used in Illinois, the Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP), have found a strong and consistent relationship between safety re-assessment and lower rates of maltreatment recurrence among children initially assessed as unsafe at the initial stage of the investigation. Not all investigated households require additional safety assessment, however. If a case is completed quickly -- in less than 30 days -- safety re-assessment is not required. The current report re-examines worker compliance with safety re-assessment at the conclusion of the investigation, and also explores whether the relationship between re-assessment and lower rates of maltreatment recurrence extends to investigations closed within 30 days.


Mar 2010 / Presentation / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Heather Ringeisen, Cecilia Casanueva, Theodore Cross & Sharon Christ

This study examined the frequency and persistence of depression among mothers of young children in child protective investigations using a national child welfare probability study. It also identified family and environment factors associated with mothers becoming and staying depressed. Almost half of these mothers experienced depression at one point during a five year follow-up period after the close of a maltreatment investigation and there was no significant improvement in depression over levels at the start of the study. Being a victim of intimate partner violence and reporting fair or poor health were the two most consistent predictors of mothers' depression. (Presented at the 23rd Annual Children's Mental Health Research and Policy Conference, Tampa, FL.)


Jan 2010 / Presentation    
Rolock, N., Manning, J.E., Koh, E., & Cross, T.

This presentation reports quantitative results from the Multiple Move Study, a joint Illinois DCFS and CFRC project to explore the reasons underlying placement instability for youth who move multiple times in substitute care. Factors explaining instability were analyzed in matched samples of 61 multiple move cases and 61 matched stable cases. Child behavior, system issues, and caregiver issues all contributed to instability - in many cases child behavior problems emerged only after earlier placement instability due to other causes. Findings on Child and Youth Investment Teams (CAYIT) program designed to address instability are also presented. Presented at the Illinois Child Welfare Data Summit: 1st Annual Leadership Summit, Chicago, IL.


Jan 2010 / Presentation / Safety and Risk    
John Fluke, Brett Drake, Theodore P. Cross, Tamera L. Fuller, Martin Nieto, & Barbra Fallon

The substantiation decision in child maltreatment investigations can have an important effect on service delivery, court actions, and judgments about caregivers, and underlies many statistical reports of child victimization. Only recently, however, has an empirical knowledge base on substantiation begun to be developed. This workshop summarized the latest research on substantiation to provide participants with knowledge about conceptual developments, important methodological advancements leading to new insights, and important implications for practice and policy. In addition, the workshop introduced issues that have been the subject of disagreement and sharp discussions within the research community in the field such as the validity of substantiation as a category, its value as a guide to intervention, and its role in understanding the CPS system. (Presented at the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) National Conference, Washington, DC, January 24, 2010.)


Jan 2010 / Presentation    
Hui Huang & Joseph P. Ryan

Victims of maltreatment are at an increased risk of delinquency. Research indicates that the risk of delinquency is approximately 47% higher for youths associated with at least one substantiated report of maltreatment. In recent years there has been increased focus on the developmental effects of maltreatment. However, such studies have failed to account for differences in response from the child welfare system. That is, do child welfare systems respond similarly to cases of childhood and adolescent maltreatment? If not, can these differential responses account for some of the developmental effects? The current study addresses this gap the knowledge.


Jan 2010 / Presentation    
Hui Huang & Joseph P. Ryan

A primary goal for child welfare systems is to improve family functioning and achieve family reunification. Yet this goal has proven particularly difficult for children with substance abusing caregivers - a group that often achieves the absolute lowest rates of reunification. Children in substance abusing families remain in substitute care placements for significantly longer periods of time, and experience significantly lower rates of family reunification relative to almost every other subgroup of families in the child welfare system (U.S. General Accounting Office, 2003). Unfortunately very little is known about the specific treatment services are most likely to improve the chances for achieving family reunification. The current study addresses this gap in the literature. We focus particular attention on the role of residential treatment, and the role of residential treatment in combination with other community based approaches (e.g. outpatient, recovery homes) for substance abusing caregivers in child welfare.


Jan 2010 / Presentation    
Yu-Ling Chiu & Joseph Ryan

Poster presented at the 2010 Annual Conference of the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR), San Francisco, CA, January 14-17.


Jan 2010 / Presentation    
Saijun Zhang & Mary Keegan Eamon

This study examines the mediating effect of psychologically and physically aggressive parenting on the relationship between mothers' community violence exposure and young children's aggressive behavior. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, the study finds a mediating mechanism by which mothers' higher levels of community violence exposure lead to more physically and psychologically aggressive parenting, which subsequently increases child aggressive behavior. (Presented at the 14th Annual Conference of the Society for Social Work and Research, San Francisco, CA.)


Jan 2010 / Presentation    
Saijun Zhang & Min Zhan

Using a sample of 1,116 single mothers with children who were about 3-year old from the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study, this study identifies a mediating mechanism by which neighborhood disorder attenuates community social capital, which subsequently increases paternal stress of single mothers with young children. (Presented at the 14th Annual Conference of the Society for Social Work and Research, San Francisco, CA.)


Jan 2010 / Journal Publication / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Cecilia Casanueva, Theodore Cross, Heather Ringeisen & Sharon Christ

This study examines depression among caregivers of young children involved in investigations of child maltreatment, in terms of 12-month prevalence of depression across 5 to 6 years. Data were from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, a national probability study of 5,501 children investigated for maltreatment. The study sample comprised 1,244 female caregivers (95.5% biological mothers) of children not placed out of home and younger than 5 years old. About a quarter of caregivers had, at any given point, a score indicating major depression in the previous 12 months; across all follow-ups, 46% of caregivers had a score indicating major depression at some point. Depression was associated with caregivers' report of intimate-partner violence and fair or poor health status. Caregivers of maltreated children are at substantial risk for depression that does not diminish over the course of 5 years. Assessing and providing assistance for intimate-partner violence and health problems may help decrease depression prevalence.

Casanueva, C., Cross, T.P., Ringeisen, H. and Christ, S. (2010). Prevalence, trajectories, and risk factors for depression recurrence among caregivers of young children involved in child maltreatment investigations. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 19, 98-116.

Jan 2010 / Journal Publication    
Brokering Language and Culture: Can Ad-hoc Interpreters Fill the Language Service Gap at Community Health Centers?
Christopher R. Larrison, Daniel Velez-Ortiz, Pedro M. Hernandez , Lissette M. Piedra & Andrea Goldberg

The purpose of the research was to explore the ability of ad hoc interpreters to integrate into the organizational climate at a federally qualified community health clinic (CHC) and create satisfactory services for limited-English-proficiency clients. Survey and interview data were gathered from staff (n D 17) and Latino clients (n D 30). The data indicate that clients felt satisfied with interpreters. Some friction existed between the interpreters and the medical staff due to incongruent expectations. The CHC's organizational climate and the interpreters' commitment to the Latino community mediated the impact of these tensions on services and satisfaction. The study offers important insight into how ad hoc interpreters can become professional medical interpreters within a limited-resource service environment.

Larrison, C., Velez-Ortiz, D., Hernandez, P., Piedra, L. M., and Goldberg, A. (2010). Brokering language and culture: Can ad-hoc interpreters fill the language service gap at community health centers? Social Work in Public Health, 25, 387-407.

Jan 2010 / Journal Publication / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Ted Cross and Christina Bruhn

States play a major role in providing mental health services for children in foster care, but previous research uses either local or national samples. Using 2003 and 2005 data, the present study compares children in foster care in Illinois and nationally on mental health need and service receipt. Caregivers completed measures of children's mental health problems and service receipt and youths completed selfreport measures of mental health problems. From 46.5% to 55.9% of Illinois children and youth in foster care scored in the clinical or borderline clinical range on a caregiver measure of children's mental health, comparable to national rates. Children and youth selfreported lower rates of mental health problems both in Illinois and nationally. Though sizable proportions used mental health services across samples, Illinois children in foster care were significantly less likely to receive a range of different mental health services than children in foster care nationally. Challenges to service delivery for Illinois children in foster care and recent service improvements are reviewed in this and a companion paper.

Cross, T.P. & Bruhn, C. (2010). Delivery of mental health services for a state's population of children in foster care: A comparison of Illinois and national data. Illinois Child Welfare, 5, 87-107.

Jan 2010 / Journal Publication / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Theodore P. Cross

This article examines the reasons for a shortfall in mental health services for children in foster care in Illinois in 2003 and 2005, and explores efforts to improve mental health services by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). The shortfall reflects both overall deficits in funding and staffing children’s mental health services in Illinois and specific challenges to the child welfare system. From 1988 to 2001, DCFS mental health change efforts focused on substantially reducing high rates of psychiatric hospitalization and residential treatment and overhauling an ineffective system of psychological assessment, leaving much undone regarding more routine mental health services. Spurred in part by federal review and statewide grassroots children’s mental health advocacy, DCFS since 2005 has initiated a range of new assessment and treatment programs. However, ongoing problems with Medicaid funding and reimbursement hinder service delivery. More rapid improvement of mental health services for this population may require a coalition with a specific commitment to children in foster care.


Jan 2010 / Presentation    
Termination of Parental Rights for Substance Abusing Caregivers in Child Welfare: for Whom and Then What?
Hong, J. H., Hernandez, P., and Ryan, J. P.

Paper presented at the 14th Annual Conference of the Society for Social Work and Research, San Francisco, CA.


Jan 2010 / Presentation    
Residential Care and Reunification for Substance Abusing Parents in Child Welfare
Huang, H. & Ryan, J.P.

Paper presented at the 14th Annual Conference of the Society for Social Work and Research, San Francisco, CA.


Jan 2010 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Wendy A. Walsh, Lisa M. Jones, Theodore P. Cross, Tonya Lippert

Corroborating evidence has been associated with a decrease in children's distress during the court process, yet few studies have empirically examined the impact of evidence type on prosecution rates. This study examined the types of evidence and whether charges were filed in a sample of child sexual abuse cases (n = 329). Cases with a child disclosure, a corroborating witness, an offender confession, or an additional report against the offender were more likely to have charges filed, controlling for case characteristics. When cases were lacking strong evidence (confession, physical evidence, eyewitness), cases with a corroborating witness were nearly twice as likely to be charged. Charged cases tended to have at least two types of evidence, regardless of whether there was a child disclosure or not.

Walsh, W.A., L.M. Jones, Cross, T.P., & Lippert, T. (2010). Prosecuting child sexual abuse: The importance of evidence type. Crime & Delinquency, 56, 436-454.

Dec 2009 / Presentation    
Kathleen A. Kearney

This two day presentation was sponsored by Casey Family Programs for public and private sector child welfare administrators in Texas to help them understand the importance of collaborative planning in devising performance based contracting initiatives. From the Casey Family Programs Peer-to-Peer Initiative, San Marcos, Texas.


Nov 2009 / Report    
Nancy Rolock, Eun Koh, Ted Cross, Jennifer Eblen Manning

The report provides detailed case summaries on the 121 cases included in the "Multiple Move" study.


Nov 2009 / Report    
Nancy Rolock, Eun Koh, Ted Cross, Jennifer Eblen Manning

This study sought to understand the reasons for placement instability among children in substitute care in Illinois. A sample of 61 children with a high number of placements (3 placements within 18 months) was selected, and propensity score matching was used to obtain an equal number of children with similar characteristics that who did not experience such high levels of placement instability. An in-depth case file review was completed on all children in the sample, and the two groups were compared to determine the possible causes for placement instability.


Oct 2009 / Report    
Kathleen A. Kearney

This study sought to understand the reasons for placement instability among children in substitute care in Illinois. A sample of 61 children with a high number of placements (3 placements within 18 months) was selected, and propensity score matching was used to obtain an equal number of children with similar characteristics that who did not experience such high levels of placement instability. An in-depth case file review was completed on all children in the sample, and the two groups were compared to determine the possible causes for placement instability.


Sep 2009 / Report / Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations    
Liz Quinn, Crystal MacAllum, Janet Ciarico, John Rogers

The Illinois Permanency for Older Wards Waiver (2005-2008) tested the effects of offering an enhanced set of transition and post-permanency services to youth who were considering subsidized guardianship or adoption. A previous Illinois subsidized guardianship waiver demonstration (1997-2002) found that the availability of subsidized guardianship boosted permanency rates, but more so for younger children than for teenagers. In response, the Older Wards Waiver was designed to determine whether the prospect of losing eligibility for some enhanced transition services after adoption or subsidized guardianship was the reason for the lower permanency rate for teens.


Sep 2009 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring, Safety and Risk    
CFRC

This annual report provides information on the performance of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services with regard to the outcomes for children who are in or at risk of substitute care. This monitoring report, required as part of the B.H. Consent Decree, examines measures of child safety, family and placement stability, continuity, permanence, and child and family well-being. Detailed break-downs of each indicator by child gender, race, age, and geographic region are provided in the appendix.


Sep 2009 / Report / Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations    
Mark Testa, Joseph Ryan, Pedro Hernandez, Hui Huang

The AODA waiver was based on the premise that Recovery Coaches could engage families more quickly in the substance abuse treatment process. Moreover, through monitoring, encouragement, and advocacy, it, was hypothesized that the use of Recovery Coaches would have a positive effect on treatment duration and treatment completion and via more timely access and higher completion rates, children in the demonstration group would experience higher rates of family reunification. The evidence indicates that parents assigned to the recovery coach group were significantly more likely to achieve family reunification as compared to parents assigned to the control group. There were no differences with regard to subsequent reports of maltreatment - indicating that families are not being reunified too quickly. Moreover, children in the recovery coach group spent significantly fewer days in foster care as compared with children in the control group. Finally, the Illinois AODA waiver demonstration saved the State almost 7 million dollars through June 30, 2009.


Sep 2009 / Journal Publication / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Ringeisen, H., Casanueva, C., Cross, T.P. & Urato, M.

This study examines mental health and special education needs and service use at school entry among children involved in maltreatment investigations as infants. Data are from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, a national probability study of 5,501 children investigated for maltreatment. The study sample comprised 959 children who were infants at baseline and 5 to 6 years old at the last follow-up. Half had behavioral or cognitive needs at entry to school. About a quarter received outpatient mental health or special education services. Logistic regression showed that compared to children residing with biological parents, adopted and foster children were more likely to receive mental health services, and children adopted or in kinship care were more likely to receive educational services. Increased monitoring of behavioral and cognitive needs of infants reported for maltreatment may facilitate their access to services and ease the transition to school.

Ringeisen, H., Casanueva, C., Cross, T. P., & Urato, M. (2009). Mental health and special education services at school entry for children who were involved with the child welfare system as infants. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 17, 177-192.

Aug 2009 / Presentation    
Kathleen A. Kearney

This presentation was given on behalf of the Striving for Excellence Project at the 3rd National Summit on Public-Private Partnership sponsored by the National Quality Improvement Center on the Privatization of Child Welfare Services (QIC PCW) in Saint Louis, Missouri. The presentation provides a status update on the project including the development of performance outcomes for the Illinois Independent and Transitional Living Programs (ILO/TLP).


Jun 2009 / Journal Publication    
Effectiveness and Limitations of the Earned Income Tax Credit for Reducing Child Poverty in the United States
Mary Keegan Eamon, Chi-Fang Wu & Saijun Zhang

Based on international comparisons, the United States has a high child poverty rate. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which provides a tax benefit to low-income working households and was expanded after the 1990s welfare reform, is currently this country's largest cash transfer program for low-income families with children. This article examines the historical components of the EITC. We then analyze the program's child poverty reduction effectiveness by comparing the percent and percentage point declines in the child poverty rate accounted for by the EITC benefit for six years between 1996 and 2005. Figures for the first four years were drawn from previous studies, while figures for the final two years were estimated with a U.S. Census Bureau calculator. All of the analyses used Current Population Survey data. We determined that the percent decline in the child poverty rate attributed to the EITC generally increased during this period (highest percent was 19.5 in 2005), while the percentage point decline remained relatively stable. We then critically examine four poverty reduction assumptions of the EITC that limit its ability to further reduce child poverty and draw social policy implications.

Eamon, M. K., Wu, C., & Zhang, S. (2009). Effectiveness and limitations of the earned income tax credit for reducing child poverty in the united states. Children and Youth Services Review, 31, 919-926.

Apr 2009 / Report    
Kathleen A. Kearney

Based on international comparisons, the United States has a high child poverty rate. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which provides a tax benefit to low-income working households and was expanded after the 1990s welfare reform, is currently this country's largest cash transfer program for low-income families with children. This article examines the historical components of the EITC. We then analyze the program's child poverty reduction effectiveness by comparing the percent and percentage point declines in the child poverty rate accounted for by the EITC benefit for six years between 1996 and 2005. Figures for the first four years were drawn from previous studies, while figures for the final two years were estimated with a U.S. Census Bureau calculator. All of the analyses used Current Population Survey data. We determined that the percent decline in the child poverty rate attributed to the EITC generally increased during this period (highest percent was 19.5 in 2005), while the percentage point decline remained relatively stable. We then critically examine four poverty reduction assumptions of the EITC that limit its ability to further reduce child poverty and draw social policy implications.


Apr 2009 / Presentation    
Kearney, K.A., Hollie, M. & McEwen, E.

This presentation discusses the importance of collaboration between the public and private sectors in bringing about large scale system reform. From the 17th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, Atlanta, Georgia.


Apr 2009 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Tamara Fuller, Martin Nieto

Previous evaluations of the Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP) have found a consistent and significant relationship between CERAP re-assessment, particularly at the conclusion of the investigation, and lower rates of maltreatment recurrence among children initially assessed as "unsafe" at the initial stages of their investigation. Concerns were raised by DCFS about the validity of this finding because there are circumstances in which a CERAP assessment at the conclusion of the investigation is not required, even among cases found to be "unsafe" in the initial CERAP assessment. The main purpose of this FY09 CERAP evaluation is to re-examine the relationship between safety re-assessment and maltreatment recurrence using the correct population of cases that most closely resembles CERAP use in the field. By ruling out possible alternative explanations for the results, we can bolster our confidence that this relationship is valid and may have important implications for Department policy and practice.


Apr 2009 / Presentation    
Kearney, K.A., Bloom-Ellis, B., Morris, A., & Jordan, N.

This panel discussion highlights the risk adjustment model developed for the Striving for Excellence project. From the 17th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, Atlanta, Georgia.


Mar 2009 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Martin Nieto, Tamara Fuller, Mark Testa

The 2008 Conditions of Children report raised a" warning sign" regarding the safety of children in care. In recent years, children in kinship foster care had become more likely to experience maltreatment recurrence while in care compared to those in traditional foster care, a reversal of previous trends. The Center conducted a series of analyses to examine the following questions in response to the finding: 1. Are licensed kinship foster homes safer than unlicensed kinship foster homes? How does each of these compare to licensed traditional foster homes? 2. Is the relationship between placement type (kin or non-kin), license status, and safety accounted for by differences in demographic or case characteristics such as child's age, child's race, number of other children in the home, or regional location?


Jan 2009 / Presentation    
Joseph P. Ryan, Pedro Hernandez & Jun-Sung Hon

Formal kinship care represents the placement of a maltreated or otherwise vulnerable youth in the care and protection of a known relative or adult with a recognized kin bond. The practice of identifying and utilizing kin placements in child welfare has significantly increased over the last two decades. In part, the increased use of kinship care reflects the priorities, preferences, and mechanisms specified in federal legislation. A fairly broad literature demonstrates the value of kin homes in child welfare. Yet significant gaps in the understanding of kin homes remain, especially with regard to youth outcomes across allied service systems. In the current study we use administrative records from a large urban county and propensity score matching to investigate the relationship between kinship care placements in child welfare and the risk of delinquency. The sample (n = 13,396) is diverse and our design is longitudinal in that we follow youth through child welfare and juvenile systems for several years. The results indicate that the relative risk of delinquency is signficantly greater for African American and white male adolescents served in kin homes. For Hispanic males and Hispanic females, kin homes are associated with a decreased likelihood of delinquency. There is no kin placement effect associated with African American or white females.


Jan 2009 / Presentation    
Zhang, S.

Using a sample of 246 single mothers who were aged between 16-50 with an income below 200 percent of the poverty line, and who lived without the presence of partners and grandparents at home, the study findings suggest that mothers with higher levels of community violence exposure are more likely to adopt more psychologically and physically aggressive parenting practice than mothers with lower levels of such exposure. (Presented at the 13th Annual Conference of Society for Social Work and Research, New Orleans, LA.)


Jan 2009 / Presentation / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Ted Cross and Christina Bruhn

This presentation reports results on mental health services for Illinois children in foster care from the 2003 and 2005 Illinois Child Well-Being studies and contrasts them with results from national comparison data. Illinois children were significantly less likely to receive mental health services than children in foster care nationally. Obstacles impeding service delivery are reviewed. Presented at the Society for Social Work Research Conference, New Orleans, LA.


Jan 2009 / Report / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Mary Ann Hartnett, Christina Bruhn, Jesse Helton, Tamara Fuller, Lynn Steiner

The IL-CWB Study Round 2 data were drawn from a sample of 655 children in care in Illinois on March 31, 2003. Significant changes were made to the methodology and data collection instruments used in Round 2 from the methodology used in Round 1. Interviews with caregivers, caseworkers, and children were modified to follow the interview instruments used in the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW). The NSCAW Executive Summary data collection instruments include several standardized child assessment instruments to assess behavior, depression, trauma, and other indices of well-being. This approach allows for direct comparisons with foster children nationwide and provides a standardized assessment of foster children in Illinois. In addition to the well-being domains of physical health, mental health, educational performance, placement stability, and permanence studied in Round 1, Round 2 of the IL-CWB Study includes sections on children's strengths and their connections to community.


Jan 2009 / Report    
Kathleen A. Kearney

This report presents findings of the semi-structured interviews of the Project Steering Committee conducted in 2008 and 2009 pertaining to their perception of collaboration, the planning and implementation process, and potential project pitfalls.


Jan 2009 / Journal Publication / Safety and Risk    
Substantiation and Maltreatment Re-Reporting: A Propensity Score Analysis
Tamara Fuller, Martin Nieto

Although it is a widely used indicator, the use of substantiation in child welfare practice and research is not without critics. Much of this criticism concerns the ability of the substantiation disposition to distinguish between child protective services (CPS) investigations in which maltreatment occurs or does not occur. This study examined the relationship between substantiation and maltreatment rereporting using an analytic technique known as propensity score matching (PSM). Children with initially substantiated maltreatment reports were at significantly higher risk for rereporting than those with initially unsubstantiated reports, even after matching the two groups on propensity scores based on several demographic and case characteristics. Although additional study using PSM on other samples is warranted, this evidence supports the predictive validity of the substantiation disposition and its continued use as one factor to consider when allocating limited post-investigation services.

Fuller, T., & Nieto, M. (2009). Substantiation and maltreatment re-reporting: A propensity score analysis. Child Maltreatment, 14, 27-37.

Jan 2009 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Tonya Lippert, Theodore Cross, Lisa Jones, & Wendy Walsh

This study aims to identify characteristics that predict full disclosure by victims of sexual abuse during a forensic interview. Data came from agency files for 987 cases of sexual abuse between December 2001 and December 2003 from Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs) and comparison communities within four U.S. states. Cases of children fully disclosing abuse when interviewed were compared to cases of children believed to be victims who gave no or partial disclosures. The likelihood of disclosure increased when victims were girls, a primary caregiver was supportive, and a child's disclosure instigated the investigation. The likelihood of disclosure was higher for children who were older at abuse onset and at forensic interview (each age variable having an independent effect). Communities differed on disclosure rate, with no difference associated with having a CAC. Findings suggest factors deserving consideration prior to a forensic interview, including organizational and community factors affecting disclosure rates.

Lippert, T., Cross,T.P., Jones, L. & Walsh, W. (2009). Telling interviewers about sexual abuse: Predictors of disclosure at forensic interviews. Child Maltreatment, 14, 100-113.

Jan 2009 / Journal Publication    
The Beliefs of Resilient African-American Adolescent Mothers Transitioning from Foster Care to Independent Living: A Case-Based Analysis
Wendy Haight, Dayna Finet, Sachiko Bamba, & Jesse Helton

This study presents the beliefs of three resilient African-American adolescent mothers transitioning from foster care into independent living in Illinois. Young mothers were followed for at least seven months as they participated in an innovative writing workshop for older foster youth. During this time, youth repeatedly initiated discussions of parenting while in foster care. Videotaped observations of workshops, in-depth, semi-structured individual interviews, and youth writing assignments yielded rich materials pertaining to parenting while in foster care. Young women identified a number of common challenges including financial difficulties, the pressure of meeting multiple obligations, stigma, and the negativity of some caseworkers. They also articulated cultural beliefs and practices which may support resilience. These included: the positive value placed on children and motherhood, spirituality, "other mothers" and various sources of community support, and an oppositional gaze. Implications for child welfare research and practice are discussed.

Haight, W.L., Finet, D., Bamba, S., & Helton, J. (2009). The beliefs of resilient African-American adolescent mothers transitioning from foster care to independent living: A case-based analysis. Children and Youth Services Review, 31, 53-62.

Oct 2008 / Report    
Nancy Rolock

This report examines the disproportionate representation in the child welfare system in Illinois for children of different races/ethnicities. Disproportionality is examined by region within the state - Cook County, Northern, Central and Southern regions. An innovative method for examining racial over/under representation - a weighted risk ratio - is used to look at child welfare outcomes at several points: indication of investigated cases, placement with kin, stability in foster care, and exits to permanence.


Sep 2008 / Report    
Kathleen A. Kearney

This report examines the disproportionate representation in the child welfare system in Illinois for children of different races/ethnicities. Disproportionality is examined by region within the state - Cook County, Northern, Central and Southern regions. An innovative method for examining racial over/under representation - a weighted risk ratio - is used to look at child welfare outcomes at several points: indication of investigated cases, placement with kin, stability in foster care, and exits to permanence.


Sep 2008 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring, Safety and Risk    
CFRC

This annual report provides information on the performance of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services with regard to the outcomes for children who are in or at risk of substitute care. This monitoring report, required as part of the B.H. Consent Decree, examines measures of child safety, family and placement stability, continuity, permanence, and child and family well-being. Detailed break-downs of each indicator by child gender, race, age, and geographic region are provided in the appendix.


Sep 2008 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Tamara Fuller, Martin Nieto

Recent concerns related to Illinois' failure to meet the national standard for maltreatment recurrence in the federal Child and Family Service Review (CFSR) have prompted some to question the utility of the safety assessment protocol (the CERAP) that has been in use in Illinois since 1995. By changing the safety outcome examined in the current CERAP evaluation to match that used in the federal CFSR (i.e., 6-month maltreatment recurrence rather than the 60-day recurrence used in previous reports), we can begin to examine the relationship between CERAP use in the field, other child protective services practices, and maltreatment recurrence. The current evaluation attempted to provide useful information for the Department's efforts of reform in this area by answering the following questions: 1) Does maltreatment recurrence as defined in the CFSR vary by region in Illinois? 2) If so, can regional differences in investigation practices be identified as possible points of policy reform? And 3) Are these regional differences in practice related in a reliable way to maltreatment recurrence?


Sep 2008 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Tonya Lippert, Tricia Favre, Cindy Alexander, and Ted Cross

The objective of this study was to identify child characteristics, factors related to the therapy referral, and caregivers’ psychological and social variables that predict sexually abused children’s beginning therapy following a therapy referral.

Lippert, T., Favre, T., Alexander, C. & Cross, T.P. (2008). Families who begin versus decline therapy for children who are sexually abused. Child Abuse & Neglect, 32, 859-868

Aug 2008 / Report / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Theodore P. Cross, Lisa M. Jones, Wendy A. Walsh, MoniqueSimone, David J. Kolko, Joyce Szczepanski, Tonya Lippert, Karen Davison, Arthur Cryns, Polly Sosnowski, Amy Shadoin, and Suzanne Magnuson

This bulletin reports results from a multi-site quasi-experimental evaluation of the impact of Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs). CACs are multidisciplinary organizations designed to provide a coordinated, child-friendly investigation and service response in cases of alleged child sexual abuse or other serious abuse. Compared to non-CAC comparison communities, non-offending caregivers in CACs reported greater satisfaction with the investigation, and children were more likely to receive forensic medical examinations and referrals for mental health services. The bulletin provides a comprehensive overview of study results and discusses the implications for practice in the response to serious child abuse.


Jul 2008 / Presentation    
Nancy Rolock, Leslie Cohen

Presented at the 11th National Child Welfare Data and Technology Conference, July 21, 2008. The rapid growth in the number of children adopted or taken into guardianship from public child welfare systems has raised concerns about the services needs of families post-finalization. This presentation provided an overview of the results of a statewide survey of caregivers who had adopted or assumed guardianship of a foster child in Illinois, in addition to the results of a national survey of child welfare administrators comparing post-permanency services.


Jul 2008 / Presentation    
Nancy Rolock

Presented at the 11th National Child Welfare Data and Technology Conference, July 22, 2008. This presentation examines the over-representation of African-American children in the Illinois child welfare system at three key points: removal from the home and placement into foster care, placement with kin, and exits to permanent homes through reunification, adoption, or guardianship.


Jul 2008 / Report    
Jun Min Park

This study examined the extent and correlates of entry into residential care among 672 children and adolescents in state custody who have experienced a psychiatric crisis. Overall, 36% of the sample was placed in residential care at some point after their first psychiatric crisis screening. Among the youth placed in residential care, 54% did so within 6 months of their first crisis screening, with an additional 18% between 6 and 12 months. Psychiatric hospitalization, older age, and type of child welfare placement, independent of psychiatric status, were associated with an increased risk for residential care placement. Having an inpatient psychiatric episode places children at greater risk for residential placement, suggesting that it would be efficient to develop diversion programs from residential placements within and immediately following psychiatric hospital episodes. Youth in psychiatric crisis may also benefit from efforts to include their families as part of the treatment process.


Jul 2008 / Journal Publication / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Special Health Care Needs Among Children in Child Welfare
Heather Ringeisen, Cecilia Casanueva, Mathew Urato & Theodore Cross

The aim of this study was to determine levels of special health care need among children in the child welfare system and how these needs may affect children's functioning. Data were from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being, a national probability study of children investigated for child maltreatment. The sample consisted of 5496 children aged 0 to 15 years at baseline. For analysis, we used descriptive statistics to determine special health care needs and children's functioning from baseline to 3-year follow-up. Logistic regression was used to examine correlates of special health care needs.

Ringeisen, H. , Casanueva, C. Urato, M.,& Cross, T.P. (2008). Special health care needs among children in child welfare. Pediatrics, 122, 232-241.

Jun 2008 / Presentation / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Theodore P. Cross

This presentation provided results from a longitudinal analysis of the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being on outcomes related to adoption for a subsample of infants who had been maltreated. Nearly one-third of infants involved in investigations were placed outside the home during or soon after the maltreatment investigation; 36% of this group had been adopted by a five-year follow-up. At five-year follow-up, adopted children had better outcomes on cognitive and learning measures than children in kin and foster care. Additional results examine frequency of multiple placements, timing of finalization, and other five-year well-being outcomes.


Jun 2008 / Presentation    
Jackie Bright, Nancy Rolock

This presentation at the DCFS Permanency Enhancement Symposium examines differences permanency outcomes of foster children of various racial and ethnic backgrounds. Differences in the percentages of indicated reports and substitute care entries during Fiscal Year 2007 are examined, as well as median length of stay in foster care, and exits to permanence within 36 months. Data is presented for the three Cook regions - Cook North, Cook South, and Cook Central - as well as for specific sites within each region.


Jun 2008 / Report    
Dayna Finet

Although vital, quantitative data cannot tell us anything about the subjective experiences of life in the child welfare system - how children and youth in foster care make sense of it, and what it means to them. Recognizing the importance of these perspectives, in 2003 the Center started Foster Youth Seen and Heard (Project FYSH) to collect the personal stories of older foster youth and young adults formerly in care. From its beginning and continuing into the current year, the FYSH project has provided a structured and supportive opportunity for self expression about life in foster care. Additionally, FYSH makes the perspectives of foster children and youth more available to researchers, child welfare professionals, policy makers, and the concerned public. Evaluations of the program have demonstrated that both the opportunity for self expression and a chance to influence positive change motivate participants to join Project FYSH and continue with the program.


Apr 2008 / Journal Publication    
Crisis Nursery Outcomes for Caregivers Served at Multiple Sites in Illinois
Susan Cole, Pedro Hernandez

Using administrative data collected by five crisis nurseries in Illinois, outcomes for individual caregivers accessing services were examined. Results showed caregivers generally reported improved outcomes in a number of domains after receiving crisis nursery services.

Cole, S.A., & Hernandez, P.M. (2008). Crisis nursery outcomes for caregivers served at multiple sites in Illinois. Children and Youth Services Review, 30, 452-465.

Mar 2008 / Report    
Kathleen A. Kearney

Using administrative data collected by five crisis nurseries in Illinois, outcomes for individual caregivers accessing services were examined. Results showed caregivers generally reported improved outcomes in a number of domains after receiving crisis nursery services.


Mar 2008 / Presentation / Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations    
Mark Testa

In the late 1990s, the Federal Government instituted IV-E Waiver Subsidized Guardianship Demonstrations in six states to test the feasibility of a new option to achieve permanency. These experiments offered subsidies to relative caregivers who were willing to assume guardianships to provide long-term permanency for foster children. The findings and policy implications of the IV-E Subsidized Guardianship Demonstrations in several states will be presented. Additionally, findings that highlight the advantages of foster children who are reared by relatives will be shown.


Mar 2008 / Report    
Mark Testa, Eun Koh, John Poertner

This study applies special analytical techniques to AFCARS data supplied by Fostering Results partner states of Arizona, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin to generate alternative prospective measures of child welfare outcomes, which can substitute for the standard retrospective measures currently utilized in the CFSR. It discusses the advantages and disadvantages of alternative plans in addressing the needs for quality data on child and family outcomes.


Jan 2008 / Presentation    
Eun Koh

Presented at the Society for Social Work Research 12th Annual Conference, January 17-20, 2008. This presentation examines the permanency outcomes of children in kinship foster care with those of children in non-kinship foster care. Propensity score matching (PSM) is used to address the problem of selection bias.


Jan 2008 / Presentation / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Zhang, S.

Using a sample of non-elderly adults from the National Survey of Families and Households, the study explores the relationship between two types of social capital -- bonding capital and bridging capital -- and an individual's future economic wellbeing. The study finds that bridging capital, measured by the strength of an individual's volunteer group affiliation, is positively associated with their future income increase, but bonding capital, measured by the strength of individual social networks with friends and relatives, does not show such a connection. (Presented at the 12th Annual Conference of Society for Social Work and Research, Washington DC.)


Jan 2008 / Journal Publication / Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations    
Recovery Coaches and Substance Exposure at Birth
Joseph Ryan, Sam Choi, Jun Sung Hong, Pedro Hernandez, Christopher Larrison

Substance exposed infants present a major challenge to child welfare and public health systems. Prenatal substance exposure and continued substance abuse in the home are associated with a wide range of adverse social, emotional, and developmental outcomes. The objective of the current study is to evaluate the use of recovery coaches in child welfare. The current study is longitudinal and utilizes an experimental design. The sample includes 931 substance abusing women enrolled in a Title IV-E Waiver Demonstration, 261 in the control group, and 670 in the experimental group. Women in the experimental group received traditional services plus the services of a recovery coach. Administrative records are used to indicate substance exposure at birth. Of the 931 women enrolled in the waiver demonstration, 21% of the control group and 15% of the experimental group were associated with a subsequent substantiated allegation indicating substance exposure at birth. Cox proportional hazards modeling indicates that women in the experimental group were significantly less likely to be associated with a new substance exposed birth.The use of recovery coaches in child welfare significantly decreases the risk of substance exposure at birth. Integrated and comprehensive approaches are necessary for addressing the complex and co-occurring needs of families involved with child protection.

Ryan, J. P., Choi, S., Hong, J., Hernandez, P. & Larrison, C. (2008). Recovery coaches and substance exposure at birth. Child Abuse and Neglect, 32, 1072-1079.

Jan 2008 / Journal Publication    
African American Youth in Foster Care and the Risk of Delinquency: The Value of Social Bonds and Permanence
Joseph Ryan, Mark Testa, & Fuhua Zhai

Juvenile delinquency remains a significant problem for child welfare systems throughout the United States. Victims of child abuse and neglect are more likely relative to children in the general population to engage in delinquency (Ryan & Testa, 2005; Widom, 1989). Although the magnitude of this relationship is not fully understood (Zingraff, Leiter, Myers, & Johnsen, 1993), the risk of delinquency is particularly high for African American males, adolescents, and children in substitute care settings. Unfortunately, little is known about the factors that connect the experiences of maltreatment and delinquency. This lack of knowledge makes it nearly impossible to decrease the risk of delinquency for children in foster care. To improve the understanding of juvenile delinquency in the child welfare system, the current study tests aspects of social control theory within the context of foster care. We focus specifically on the effects of foster parent--foster child attachment, commitment, and permanence. The results indicate that strong levels of attachment decrease the risk of delinquency for youth in foster care. Involvement with religious organizations also decreases the risk of delinquency. In contrast, perceptions of placement instability, placement with relatives, and school suspensions are associated with an increased risk of delinquency.

Ryan, J. P., Testa, M. F., & Zhai, F. (2008). African American youth in foster care and the risk of delinquency: The value of social bonds and permanence. Child Welfare, 87, 115-140.

Jan 2008 / Report / Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations    
CFRC, DCFS

This semi-annual report is submitted by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services as required by the Terms and Conditions of its child welfare demonstration project with the Children's Bureau of the Administration for Children and Families. The report covers the period June 2007 - December 2007. Unless otherwise indicated, analysis data in the report covers April 2000 through December 2007, the last reporting quarter for which complete data were available from our data collection agency. Client demographic and treatment participation totals are complete through December 2007 unless otherwise indicated. The format for this report follows the requirements for child welfare demonstration projects in the ACF draft Program Instruction issued February 2001 (Log No. ACYF-CB-PI-2001).


Jan 2008 / Journal Publication    
Cecilia E. Casanueva, Theodore P. Cross & Heather Ringeisen

This study examines levels of developmental need in young children investigated by child protective services, estimates early intervention service use, and examines need and service use variations during the 5-6 years after investigation on the basis of maltreatment substantiation status. Data were from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, the first nationally representative study of children investigated for maltreatment. The sample comprised 1,845 children aged 0 to 36 months at baseline. Logistic regression with covariate adjustment was used to examine the relationship between having an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP; a proxy and marker of early intervention services through Part C of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act) and substantiation status. A high prevalence of developmental problems was found among children with substantiated cases and children with unsubstantiated cases. Few children with developmental needs had an IFSP. Substantiation status and level of child welfare system involvement were significantly associated with having an IFSP.

Casanueva, C., Cross, T.P. & Ringeisen, H. (2008). Developmental needs and individualized family service plans among infants and toddlers in the child welfare system. Child Maltreatment, 13, 245-258.

Jan 2008 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Wendy A. Walsh, Tonya Lippert, Theodore P. Cross, Danielle M. Maurice and Karen S. Davison

This article explores the length of time between key events in the criminal prosecution of child sexual abuse cases (charging decision, case resolution process, and total case-processing time), which previous research suggests is related to victims' recovery. The sample included 160 cases in three communities served by the Dallas County District Attorney. Most cases (69%) took at least 60 days for the charging decision, with cases investigated at the Children's Advocacy Center having a quicker time than either comparison community. Only 20% of cases had a case resolution time within the 180-day target suggested by the American Bar Association standard for felonies. Controlling for case characteristics, one of the three communities and cases with an initial arrest had a significantly quicker case resolution time. Total case processing generally took more than 2 years. Implications include the need to better monitor and shorten case resolution time.

Walsh, W., Lippert, T., Cross, T., Maurice, D. & Davison, K. (2008). How long to prosecute child sexual abuse for a community using a children’s advocacy center and two comparison communities? Child Maltreatment, 13, 3-13.

Jan 2008 / Journal Publication    
Juvenile Delinquency in Child Welfare: Investigating Group Home Effects
Ryan, J. P., Marshall, J. M., Herz, D., & Hernandez, P.

Group homes fall into the broad category of residential care, a category that also includes half-way homes, campus based homes, emergency shelters, self-contained settings, and staff secured setting. In general, residential care services represent an option of last resort. In the current study we use administrative records from a large urban county and propensity score matching to investigate the relationship between group home placements in child welfare and the risk of delinquency (n=8226). The results indicate that the relative risk of delinquency is approximately two and one half times greater for adolescents with at least one group home placement as compared with youth in foster care settings. This finding raises serious questions about the use of group homes for victims of physical abuse and neglect.

Ryan, J. P., Marshall, J. M., Herz, D., & Hernandez, P. (2008). Juvenile delinquency in child welfare: investigating group home effects. Children and Youth Services Review, 30, 1088-1099.

Dec 2007 / Research Brief    
CFRC

This research brief examines the rate of re-entry into foster care among children who exited to adoptive homes, and compares re-entry rates between Illinois and other states.


Nov 2007 / Presentation    
Jung Min Park

This presentation to the Child Care Association of Illinois describes findings of a study that examined the relationship between inpatient psychiatric hospitalization and later placement into substitute care.


Nov 2007 / Presentation    
Mark Testa

Presentation at the Fall Membership Practice, Policy, and Networking meeting of the Child Care Association of Illinois, given on November 8, 2007. This presentation provides an overview of the mental health and special education status of children in foster care in Illinois. It also provides information on the growing group of foster children who have exited the system to adoption or guardianship.


Nov 2007 / Presentation / Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations    
Joseph Ryan

Presented November 8, 2007 to the Child Care Association of Illinois. Describes the results of the Illinois Alcohol and Other Drug (AODA) waiver demonstration evaluation, and also examines the relationship between child welfare and juvenile justice outcomes.


Oct 2007 / Presentation    
Eun Koh

Presented at the Council on Social Work Education, San Francisco, California, October 27-30, 2007. The study compares differences in foster care re-entry following reunification for children whose last placement setting was either a relative or non-relative foster home. Study employed propensity score matching (PSM) to minimize the effects of selection bias on outcomes.


Oct 2007 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Tamara Fuller, Martin Nieto

This report analyzes the impact of the Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP) implementation on the safety of children investigated by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) for abuse and neglect. A series of analyses were completed to examine CERAP effectiveness: 1) trend analysis of 60-day maltreatment recurrence rates from 1986-2006; 2) trend analysis of 6-month maltreatment recurrence rates from 1986-2006; 3) an examination of CERAP use by child protection investigators (CPI); 4) comparisons of recurrence rates between investigation cases categorized as "safe" and "unsafe" by child protective services (CPS) workers in the field, and 5) comparisons of recurrence rates among safe and unsafe households with and without a second CERAP assessment.


Sep 2007 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring, Safety and Risk    
CFRC

This annual report provides information on the performance of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services with regard to the outcomes for children who are in or at risk of substitute care. This monitoring report, required as part of the B.H. Consent Decree, examines measures of child safety, family and placement stability, continuity, permanence, and child and family well-being. Detailed break-downs of each indicator by child gender, race, age, and geographic region are provided in the appendix.


Jul 2007 / Report    
Barry Ackerson, Dayna Finet, Misa Kayama, Ozge Sensoy

The research described in this report analyzes empirically the status of an existing vocational program for foster children and youth. Additionally, study findings suggest a need for a structure and curriculum more compatible with currently accepted models in community mental health and adult education rather than within the confines of resources and supports typically available in a largely residential living program.


Jun 2007 / Report    
Kristen Tromble

This Guide is intended to promote consistency in the data used to produce specific child welfare outcome measures.


Jun 2007 / Journal Publication    
A Child's-Eye View of Methamphetamine Abuse: Implications for Helping Foster Families to Succeed
Wendy Haight, Teresa Ostler, James Black, Kathryn Sheridan, Linda Kingery

This report focuses on the experiences and perspectives of rural, Midwestern children aged 7-14 years who were involved with the public child welfare system because of their parents' methamphetamine abuse. Eighteen children participated in semi structured, in-depth interviews focusing on their families of origin. Children reported exposure not only to their parents' and non-kin adults' methamphetamine and other substance abuse, but also to a constellation of activities related to drug use or drug- seeking behavior; including violence within their homes and other criminal behavior. Children responded to the contexts in which they were reared in a variety of ways, including accepting or actively resisting socialization messages that normalized substance abuse. The majority of children described involvement with law enforcement and child welfare as a "sad" and "scary" time in their families. Far from embracing their placement within safe and stable families, many children continued to express sadness, distress, and resistance to legal and child welfare interventions, even after months in foster care. Implications for facilitating the adjustment of children to foster care and beyond are discussed, including providing foster parents with support and information about the contexts in which children have been reared and children's understanding of those contexts so that they may interpret and respond to challenges that may emerge.

Haight, W., Ostler, T., Black, J., Sheridan, K., & Kingery, L. (2007). A child's-eye view of parent methamphetamine abuse: Implications for helping foster families to succeed. Children and Youth Services Review, 29, 1-15.

Jun 2007 / Report / Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations    
Joseph Ryan, Sam Choi, Jun Sung Hong, Pedro Hernandez, Christopher Larrison

Substance exposed infants present a major challenge to child welfare and public health systems. Prenatal substance exposure and continued substance abuse in the home are associated with a wide range of adverse social, emotional, and developmental outcomes. Such outcomes include but are not limited to strained parental attachments, child maltreatment, and extended stays in substitute care settings. The current study focuses on an experimental evaluation of the effectiveness of recovery coaches in child welfare to prevent new substance exposed births. The sample includes 931 substance abusing women enrolled in a Title IV-E Waiver Demonstration, 261 in the control group and 670 in the experimental group. Cox proportional hazards modeling indicates that women in the experimental group were significantly less likely to be associated with a new substance exposed birth.


May 2007 / Research Brief    
CFRC

This brief provides an overview of the introduction and implementation of subsidized guardianship in Illinois, including results from the federal Title IV-E waiver demonstration evaluation.


May 2007 / Presentation    
Tamara Fuller

This presentation highlights findings from a telephone survey of 350 caregivers who either adopted or assumed guardianship of a child in the Illinois child welfare system. The survey asked caregivers about their child's service needs, and their attempts to get services to meet those needs. Findings from this survey provide valuable information on practices and services that will best support this population. Presented at the Illinois Post-Permanency Forum, Chicago, IL, May 31, 2007.


Feb 2007 / Presentation    
Tamara Fuller, Melinda Lis

In 2000, the number of Illinois children in publicly-assisted adoptive and guardianship homes surpassed the number of children in foster care. The challenge that Illinois and other states now face is how to sustain these newly-formed family relationships. This presentation presents findings from two studies: a statewide survey of adoptive and guardianship parents in Illinois regarding their service needs; and a national survey of public child welfare agencies regarding post-adoption subsidies, services and spending. Findings from this survey provide valuable information on practices and services that will best support this population. Presented at the Child Welfare League of America National Conference, Washington, DC, February 27, 2007.


Jan 2007 / Journal Publication    
Striving for Excellence: Extending Child Welfare Performance Based Contracting to Residential, Independent and Transitional Living Programs in Illinois
Kathleen A. Kearney & Erwin McEwen

Performance-based contracting for foster care case management services has been in effect in Illinois since 1997. It is credited with reducing the number of children and youth in out-of home placement by over 65% in the last decade. Despite the success of this initiative in moving over 34,000 children into permanency homes, Illinois failed to achieve substantial conformity on any of the sever child welfare outcome measures in its 2003 Child and Family Service Review (CFSR). This article discusses the history of performance-based contracting in Illinois, lessons learned from foster-care case management contracting; the challenges in expanding this initiative to residential, independent living, and transitional living programs; the planning and implementation process used; and the proposed evaluation design.

Kearney, K.A. & McEwen, E. (2007). Striving for Excellence: Extending child welfare performance based contracting to residential, Independent and Transitional Living programs in Illinois. Professional Development: The International Journal of Continuing Social Work Education, 10, 32-48.

Jan 2007 / Report    
Mark Testa, Martin Nieto, Tamara Fuller

This report updates a 2004 analysis of the relationship between placement stability and the number of foster children in the home. Our re-analysis extends the observation period an additional three years: FY2004-2006. The trend line shows that the concentration of children in the same foster home has continued to diminish during this time period. In FY 2006, approximately 2.3% of unrelated foster children were placed in foster homes with three or more children compared to 4.1% in FY2003 and 16.0% in FY1990. This reduction bodes well for placement stability because the data suggest that the risk of non-permanency moves increases significantly with each additional unrelated child who is resident in the home. The reanalysis also reconfirms that the risk of instability is still invariant with respect to the number of siblings in the home. In fact, there is compelling evidence that having at least one sibling in the home may be a protective factor against running away.


Jan 2007 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Lisa M. Jones, Theodore P. Cross, Wendy A. Walsh & Monique Simone

The Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) model of child abuse investigation is designed to be more child and family-friendly than traditional methods, but there have been no rigorous studies of their effect on children's and caregivers' experience. Data collected as part of the Multi-Site Evaluation of Children's Advocacy Centers were used to examine whether CACs improve caregivers' and children's satisfaction with investigations. Nonoffending caregiver and child satisfaction were assessed during research interviews, including the administration of a 14-item Investigation Satisfaction Scale (ISS) for caregivers. Two hundred and twenty-nine sexual abuse cases investigated through a CAC were compared to 55 cases investigated in communities with no CAC. Hierarchical linear regression results indicated that caregivers in CAC cases were more satisfied with the investigation than those from comparison sites, even after controlling for a number of relevant variables. There were few differences between CAC and comparison samples on children's satisfaction. Children described moderate to high satisfaction with the investigation, while a minority expressed concerns about their experience. The CAC model shows promise for improving families' experiences, but to build upon this promise, agencies will need to systematize procedures for refining and adapting the model as new research becomes available.

Jones, L.M., Cross, T.P., Walsh, W. & Simone, M. (2007). Do Children's Advocacy Centers improve families' experiences of child sexual abuse investigations? Child Abuse & Neglect, 31, 1069-1085.

Jan 2007 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Theodore P. Cross , Lisa M. Jones, Wendy A. Walsh, Monique Simone, David Kolko

Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs) aim to improve child forensic interviewing following allegations of child abuse by coordinating multiple investigations, providing child-friendly interviewing locations, and limiting redundant interviewing. This analysis presents one of the first rigorous evaluations of CACs' implementation of these methods. This analysis is part of a quasi-experimental study, the Multi-Site Evaluation of Children's Advocacy Centers, which evaluated four CACs relative to within-state non-CAC comparison communities. Case abstractors collected data on investigation methods in 1,069 child sexual abuse cases with forensic interviews by reviewing case records from multiple agencies. CAC cases were more likely than comparison cases to feature police involvement in CPS cases (41% vs. 15%), multidisciplinary team (MDT) interviews (28% vs. 6%), case reviews (56% vs. 7%), joint police/child protective services (CPS) investigations (81% vs. 52%) and video/audiotaping of interviews (52% vs. 17%, all these comparisons p < .001). CACs varied in which coordination methods they used, and some comparison communities also used certain coordination methods more than the CAC with which they were paired. Eighty-five percent of CAC interviews took place in child-friendly CAC facilities, while notable proportions of comparison interviews took place at CPS offices (22%), police facilities (18%), home (16%), or school (19%). Ninety-five percent of children had no more than two forensic interviews, and CAC and comparison differences on number of interviews were mostly non-significant. Relative to the comparison communities, these CACs appear to have increased coordination on investigations and child forensic interviewing. The CAC setting was the location for the vast majority of CAC child interviews, while comparison communities often used settings that many consider undesirable. CACs showed no advantage on reducing the number of forensic interviews, which was consistently small across the sample.

Cross, T.P., Jones, L., Walsh, W., Simone, M. & Kolko, D. (2007). Child forensic interviewing in children's advocacy centers: Empirical data on a practice model. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31, 1031-1052.

Jan 2007 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Wendy Walsh, Theodore Cross, Lisa Jones, Monique Simone, & David Kolko

This study examines the impact of Children's Advocacy Centers (CAC) and other factors, such as the child's age, alleged penetration, and injury on the use of forensic medical examinations as part of the response to reported child sexual abuse. This analysis is part of a quasi-experimental study, the Multi-Site Evaluation of Children's Advocacy Centers, which evaluated four CACs relative to within-state non-CAC comparison communities. Case abstractors collected data on forensic medical exams in 1,220 child sexual abuse cases through review of case records. Suspected sexual abuse victims at CACs were two times more likely to have forensic medical examinations than those seen at comparison communities, controlling for other variables. Girls, children with reported penetration, victims who were physically injured while being abused, White victims, and younger children were more likely to have exams, controlling for other variables. Non-penetration cases at CACs were four times more likely to receive exams as compared to those in comparison communities. About half of exams were conducted the same day as the reported abuse in both CAC and comparison communities. The majority of caregivers were very satisfied with the medical professional. Receipt of a medical exam was not associated with offenders being charged. Results of this study suggest that CACs are an effective tool for furthering access to forensic medical examinations for child sexual abuse victims.

Walsh, W., Cross, T.P. , Jones, L., Simone, M. & Kolko, D. (2007). Which sexual abuse victims receive a forensic medical examination? The impact of children's advocacy centers. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31, 1053-1068.

Jan 2007 / Journal Publication    
Developmental Trajectories of Offending for Adolescents Aging out of Foster Care
Joseph P. Ryan, Pedro Hernandez & Denise C. Herz

The difficulties that adolescents encounter as they age out of the foster care system are numerous and fairly well documented. Such difficulties include poor health, lack of affordable housing, low-wage employment, limited educational opportunities, and unreliable or nonexistent familial support. These difficulties often increase the likelihood of a wide variety of negative outcomes. One such outcome is involvement with juvenile justice and adult corrections. Adolescents aging out of foster care are at an increased risk of engaging in delinquency and crime. Unfortunately, little is known about the developmental trajectories of such juvenile and adult offending for the foster care population. The present study addresses this gap in the literature. Using a semiparametric group-based modeling approach, the authors identify three unique offending trajectories among 294 male adolescents leaving a large Midwestern foster care agency: nonoffenders, early onset desisters, and chronic offenders. Using multinomial logistic regression, they then identify a variety of risk and protective factors associated with each development trajectory. Placement stability and school enrollment emerge as two of the most important predictors.

Ryan, J. P., Hernandez, P. M., & Herz, D. (2007). Developmental trajectories of offending for adolescents aging out of foster care. Social Work Research, 31, 83-93.

Jan 2007 / Journal Publication    
Maltreatment and Delinquency: Investigating Child Welfare Bias in Juvenile Justice Processing
Joseph Ryan, Denise Herz, Pedro Hernandez & Jane Marshall

There is at least thirty years of research that focuses on the increased risk of delinquency associated with child maltreatment. Yet there are few studies that investigate the outcomes associated with victims of child abuse and neglect beyond the initial arrest. Using child welfare and juvenile justice administrative data from Los Angeles County, the current study investigates the relationship between child welfare status and two judicial outcomes: case dismissal and probation. The results indicate that delinquency cases originating in child welfare are less likely to receive probation, controlling for a wide range of factors including age, gender, race, and type of offense. The results also indicate that the child welfare system is a significant source of overrepresentation for African American youth in juvenile justice. Adolescents simultaneously involved with child welfare and juvenile justice may require alternative arrangements with regard to juvenile justice dispositions and placements.

Ryan, J. P., Herz, D., Hernandez, P. & Marshall, J. (2007). Maltreatment and delinquency: investigating child welfare bias in juvenile justice processing. Children and Youth Services Review, 29, 1035-1050.

Nov 2006 / Journal Publication    
Completing Substance Abuse Treatment in Child Welfare: The Role of Co-Occurring Problems and Primary Drug of Choice
Sam Choi, Joseph Ryan

A significant number of substance-abusing parents in the child welfare system do not complete substance abuse treatments. Consequently, their children experience longer stays in substitute care settings, and the risk of the termination of parental rights is increased. This study identifies and determines the specific factors that explain the completion of substance abuse treatment for substance-abusing caregivers in child welfare. The sample includes 871 caregivers enrolled in the Illinois Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse waiver demonstration. Approximately 22% of these caregivers successfully completed all required levels of substance abuse treatment. The multivariate models indicate that age, employment status, and legal involvement were significantly associated with the likelihood of completing substance abuse treatment. Heroin users were significantly less likely to complete treatment as compared with alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana users. The findings are discussed in terms of policy and practice implications for public child welfare systems.

Choi, S., & Ryan, J.P. (2006). Completing substance abuse treatment in child welfare: The role of co-occurring problems and primary drug of choice. Child Maltreatment, 11, 313-325.

Sep 2006 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring, Safety and Risk    
CFRC

This annual report provides information on the performance of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services with regard to the outcomes for children who are in or at risk of substitute care. This monitoring report, required as part of the B.H. Consent Decree, examines measures of child safety, family and placement stability, continuity, permanence, and child and family well-being. Detailed break-downs of each indicator by child gender, race, age, and geographic region are provided in the appendix.


Jun 2006 / Journal Publication    
Supporting Battered Women and Their Children: Perspectives of Battered Mothers and Child Welfare Professionals
Woochan Shim, Wendy Haight

This qualitative study explores the perspectives of child welfare professionals and battered women involved in the public child welfare system about interventions that support battered women and their children. In-depth, semi-structured, individual interviews with 17 mothers and 20 professionals revealed both converging and diverging perspectives on services provided by the public child welfare system. Both mothers and professionals stressed the importance of the provision of materially and emotionally supportive services, especially after women had severed their violent relationships. Mothers' and professionals' beliefs were discrepant in areas of family support; particularly, the appropriateness of focusing primarily on mothers and developing safety plans that separated the couple. Services that assume battered mothers have limited parenting capabilities, such as taking custody of a child and referring mothers to basic parenting classes, were controversial topics receiving some support and some criticism from both mothers and professionals. Findings suggest possible needs of battered women involved in the child welfare system, as well as topics requiring greater communication between mothers and child welfare professionals.

Shim, W., & Haight, W.L. (2006). Supporting battered women and their children: Perspectives of battered mothers and child welfare professionals. Children and Youth Services Review, 28, 620-637.

Jun 2006 / Journal Publication / Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations    
Integrating Substance Abuse Treatment and Child Welfare Services: Findings from the Illinois Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Waiver Demonstration
Joseph Ryan, Jeanne Marsh, Mark Testa, Dick Louderman

Alcohol and other drug abuse is a major problem for children and families involved with public child welfare. Substance abuse compromises appropriate parenting practices and increases the risk of child maltreatment. A substantial proportion of substantiated child abuse and neglect reports involve parental substance abuse. Once in the system, children of substance-abusing families experience significantly longer stays in foster care and significantly lower rates of reunification. To address these problems, child welfare systems are developing service integration models that incorporate both substance abuse and child welfare services. This study provides an initial examination of the effectiveness of one service integration model that emphasizes the provision of intensive case management to link substance abuse and child welfare services. The authors used an experimental design and focused particular attention on two outcomes: access to substance abuse services and family reunification.The findings indicate that the families assigned to the experimental group used substance abuse services at a significantly higher rate and were more likely to achieve family reunification than were families in the control group.

Ryan, J.P., Marsh, J.C., Testa, M.F., & Louderman, R. (2006). Integrating substance abuse treatment and child welfare services: Findings from the Illinois alcohol and other drug abuse waiver demonstration. Social Work Research, 30, 95-107.

Apr 2006 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Tamara Fuller & Martin Nieto

This report analyzes the impact of Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP) implementation on the safety of children investigated by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) for abuse and neglect. Child safety is assessed using data from DCFS' Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System (CANTS) and defined as the occurrence/nonoccurrence of an indicated allegation of maltreatment within 60 days of an initial investigation. The current analysis examined recurrence rates in investigations with safety decisions of "safe" versus "unsafe." Rates are examined separately for investigations of moderate physical abuse, severe physical abuse, and sexual abuse.


Feb 2006 / Report    
Tamara Fuller, Christina Bruhn, Melinda Lis, Nancy Rolock, Leslie Cohen

This report presents the results of a comprehensive evaluation of post-adoption and guardianship services in Illinois. Three separate studies are included:


Jan 2006 / Journal Publication    
Testing the Effects of Caseworker Characteristics in Child Welfare
Joseph P. Ryan, Philip Garnier, Michael Zyphur, Fuhua Zhai

While it is widely accepted that the biological parent(s), the foster or adoptive parent(s) and the child all have a role in explaining child welfare outcomes, a fourth player - the caseworker - may have an equally influential role in affecting child outcomes. Caseworkers can influence the nature, amount, and quality of benefits and sanctions provided by their agencies, as well as the eligibility of clients for services, and can maneuver through the system in a way that has the most direct effect on clients. This paper investigates the role of caseworkers in determining outcomes in the child welfare system. We develop and test a variety of multi-level and multiple membership models to better understand the association between caseworker characteristics and child welfare outcomes. Specifically, we focus attention on the relationship between the number of caseworkers assigned to each child (i.e., turnover), the racial match between the child and the caseworker, and the role of graduate education (possession of an MSW) -- on a child's length of stay in the child welfare system and family reunification.

Ryan, J. P., Garnier, P., Zyphur, M. & Zhai, F. (2006). Testing the effects of caseworker characteristics in child welfare. Children and Youth Services Review, 28, 993-1006.

Jan 2006 / Report / Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations    
Joseph Ryan

This report examines the use of Recovery Coaches in promoting progress and success for drug-involved parents of children involved in the child welfare system. The use of a recovery coach was intended to increase the access to substance abuse services, improve substance abuse treatment outcomes, shorten the length of time children of drug-involved parents remain in substitute care placement, and affect child welfare outcomes including increasing rates of family reunification and decreasing the risk of continued maltreatment.


Jan 2006 / Journal Publication    
Alisa B. Miller & Theodore Cross

This study examines the use of ethnicity in 489 empirical research articles published in three major child maltreatment specialty journals from 1999 to 2002. Of the American samples, 12.5% focus on ethnicity, 76.2% report the ethnic composition of participants, and 33.8% use ethnicity of participants in analyses. Ethnicity has a significant effect in 52.3% of articles in which it was used in analyses, suggesting its importance as a variable in a wide range of studies. African Americans and Native Americans are underrepresented in research samples. These findings indicate more attention to ethnicity in American research than Behl, Crouch, May, Valente, and Conyngham's 2001 study might suggest but also highlight the need for continued expansion in focusing on, reporting, and using ethnicity in research.

Miller, A.B. & Cross, T.P. (2006). Ethnicity in child maltreatment research: A replication of Behl et al.'s content analysis. Child Maltreatment, 11, 16-26.

Dec 2005 / Journal Publication / Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations    
Integrated Services for Families With Multiple Problems: Obstacles to Family Reunification
Jeanne Marsh, Joseph Ryan, Sam Choi, Mark Testa

Child welfare clients with co-occurring problems are recognized as clients who have difficulty achieving positive child welfare outcomes. The current study focuses on families in the child welfare system with co-occurring problems and the impact of such problems on the likelihood of reunification. The current study contributes to the literature on service integration by examining whether it is necessary to go beyond assessment and service access to insure families make progress in each co-occurring problem area to achieve reunification. The sample is comprised of 724 substance-abusing families enrolled in the Illinois Title IV-E Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) Waiver Demonstration. Data on client progress consisted of provider ratings completed quarterly to track progress related to problems of substance abuse, domestic violence, housing and mental health. The findings indicate that progress in resolving co-occurring problem areas does increase the likelihood of achieving family reunification. Thus, the provision of the child welfare service model alone is insufficient. In order for child welfare systems to increase reunification rates, services must target the specific needs of individual families and assist them in achieving progress within co-occurring problem areas. Successful integrated service programs must identify the range of specific problems that clients are dealing with and insure that they address and resolve these problems in order to increase the likelihood of family reunification.

Marsh, J.C., Ryan, J.P., Choi, S. & Testa, M. (2006). Integrated services for families with multiple problems: Obstacles to family reunification. Children and Youth Services Review, 28, 1074-1087.

Jun 2005 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Alan Puckett

Using combined survey, administrative, and census data, this study analyzed household- and community-level variables to determine their relationships with the occurrence of child maltreatment reports among a sample of 1091 low-income households in six Illinois counties. The study sought to determine which factors were most strongly related to the occurrence of reports, and whether the likelihood of reports varied according to a family's relative "visibility" in their neighborhood.


Jun 2005 / Journal Publication    
Enhancing Parent-Child Interaction During Foster Care Visits: Experimental Assessment of an Intervention
Wendy Haight, Sarah Manglesdorph, James Black, Margaret Szewczyk, Sarah Schoppe, Grace Giorgio, Karen Madrigal, Lakshmi Tata

Mothers of young children recently placed in foster care participated in an intervention to enhance parent-child interaction during visits. The mothers all reported substantial loss and trauma histories. Immediately prior to the visits, the mothers were coached on strategies for separating from their children at the visit's end. The mothers displayed more behavioral strategies for supporting their children when the visit was over, but were less engaged with their children during the leave-taking sequence and displayed fewer ways of maintaining the child's involvement in mother-child interaction during leave-taking than those in a comparison group. This article discusses consideration of parents' trauma history in designing interventions to enhance parent-child interaction.

Haight, W., Mangelsdorf, S., Black, J., Szewczyk, M., Schoppe, S., Giorgio, F., Madrigal, K., & Tata, L. (2005). Enhancing parent-child interaction during foster care visits: Experimental assessment of an intervention. Child Welfare, 84, 459-481.

Apr 2005 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Tamara Fuller & Martin Nieto

This report analyzes the impact of Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP) implementation on the safety of children investigated by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) for abuse and neglect. Child safety is assessed using data from DCFS' Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System (CANTS) and defined as the occurrence/nonoccurrence of an indicated allegation of maltreatment within 60 days of an initial investigation. The current analysis examined recurrence rates in investigations with safety decisions of "safe" versus "unsafe."


Apr 2005 / Report / Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations    
Mark Testa

The IV-E child welfare waivers program is an important but underutilized provision of the Social Security Act. Authorized by Congress in 1994, the program gives states greater spending flexibility while maintaining the basic child protection entitlement and ensuring that federal dollars are invested in innovations that are scientifically proven to work. This paper reviews the role of waiver demonstrations in advancing child welfare reform and explains the use of cost neutrality formulas to reward states for successful innovations and limit federal investment risk for failed experiments. It describes the limitations of the current waiver structure and how they could be addressed. The paper concludes with a set of policy options to amend the existing waiver program to encourage innovation, rigorous evaluation of hypothesized solutions, and widespread dissemination of proven practices to hold public child welfare systems accountable for achieving the outcomes valued by families, children, and society at large.


Mar 2005 / Journal Publication    
Child Maltreatment and Juvenile Delinquency: Investigating the Role of Placement and Placement Instability
Joseph Ryan, Mark Testa

Children who experience maltreatment are at increased risk of engaging in delinquent behavior. Although little is known about the mechanisms responsible for this increased risk, the use of substitute care placement and placement instability are often identified as correlates. It is not clear from prior studies, however, whether delinquency precedes or follows placement instability. The current study adds significantly to the literature by identifying selected factors related to child maltreatment and delinquency and disentangling the timing of delinquency petitions relative to movements within the child welfare system. The results indicate that substantiated victims of maltreatment average 47% higher delinquency rates relative to children not indicated for abuse or neglect. In addition, approximately 16% of children placed into substitute care experience at least one delinquency petition compared to 7% of all maltreatment victims who are not removed from their family. Placement instability further increases the risk of delinquency for male foster children, but not for female foster children. Other characteristics related to delinquency include race, age, and recurrence of maltreatment.

Ryan, J.P., & Testa, M.F. (2005). Child maltreatment and juvenile delinquency: Investigating the role of placement and placement instability. Children and Youth Services Review, 27, 227-249.

Feb 2005 / Report / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Mary Ann Hartnett, Christina Bruhn

In 2001, the judge overseeing the B.H. Consent Decree called for a comprehensive study of the current state of the well-being of children in foster care in Illinois to determine if the Department of Children and Family Services was meeting minimal standards. The Children and Family Research Center undertook the Illinois Child Well-Being Study to measure children's functioning in the domains of safety, permanence, health, mental health, and education. The study incorporates three separate rounds of data collections and analyses for three random samples of children in placement. The results of Round I of the Illinois Child Well-Being Study are presented in this volume.


Jan 2005 / Journal Publication / Safety and Risk    
Child Safety at Reunification: A Case-Control Study of Maltreatment Recurrence Following Return Home from Substitute Care
Tamara Fuller

The study examined the factors that predict short-term (i.e., within 60 days) maltreatment recurrence among 174 families with children returning home from their first stay in substitute care. From a variety of child, caretaker, placement, family environment, and service provision characteristics, seven variables uniquely added to the prediction of maltrement: 1) child age, 2) caretaker mental illness, 3) number of placements, 4) type of placemnet, 5) length of time in placement, 6) number of children in the home at reunification, and 7) the interaction between household structure at reunification and the presence of siblings returned home with the index child. The implications of these findings for child welfare practice and future research are discussed in detail.

Fuller, T.L. (2005). Child safety at reunification: A case-control study of maltreatment recurrence following return home from substitute care. Children and Youth Services Review, 27 1293-1306.

Jan 2005 / Journal Publication    
Theodore P. Cross, David Finkelhor & Richard Ormrod

This article examines the relationship of police and child protective services (CPS) coinvolvement to the outcomes of child maltreatment investigations. It reviews practice and empirical literature and conducts a secondary analysis of a national CPS data set of CPS. Most sources argue that coordination of the two agencies improves investigations and benefits children and families. Yet, sources also report friction between these agencies, interference with each other's job, and concerns that police involvement increases child removal. In the CPS case data, allegations were more likely to be judged credible when police also investigated and families were also more likely to receive various services. For neglect cases, multidisciplinary decision making, but not police involvement per se, was linked to child removal. Across studies, police do not appear to hinder CPS effectiveness and may actually promote it. Their investigations should be coordinated in every community.

Cross, T.P., Finkelhor, D. & Ormrod R. (2005). Police involvement in child protective services investigations. Child Maltreatment, 10, 224-244.

Jan 2005 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Lisa M. Jones, Theodore P. Cross, Wendy A. Walsh & Monique Simone

This article reviews the research relevant to seven practices considered by many to be among the most progressive approaches to criminal child abuse investigations: multidisciplinary team investigations, trained child forensic interviewers, videotaped interviews, specialized forensic medical examiners, victim advocacy programs, improved access to mental health treatment for victims, and Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs). The review finds that despite the popularity of these practices, little outcome research is currently available documenting their success. However, preliminary research supports many of these practices or has influenced their development. Knowledge of this research can assist investigators and policy makers who want to improve the response to victims, understand the effectiveness of particular programs, or identify where assumptions about effectiveness are not empirically supported.

Jones, L.M., Cross, T.P., Walsh, W., & Simone, M. (2005). Criminal investigations of child abuse: The research behind best practices. Trauma, Violence and Abuse: A Review Journal, 6, 254-268.

Jan 2005 / Journal Publication    
Finkelhor, D., Cross, T.P. & Cantor, E.

This bulletin describes the new concept of the juvenile victim justice system. Juvenile victims of crime experience a de facto system involving police, prosecutors, courts and child protection agencies that affects their experiences and outcomes. The bulletin reviews case flow through this system and discusses three specific impacts for victims: 1) interviews and appearances that child victims must make before officials, (2) direct therapeutic or reparative services that child victims receive, and (3) family disruptions or other disruptions resulting from institutional decisions within the system. The concept of a juvenile victim justice system has implications for policy and practice, system integration, victim assistance and services, information-sharing, and system assessment.

Finkelhor, D., Cross, T.P. & Cantor, E. (2005). How the justice system responds to juvenile victims: A comprehensive model. OJJDP Crimes Against Children Series, Bulletin.

Jan 2005 / Journal Publication    
Finkelhor, D., Cross, T.P. & Cantor, E.

This article proposes the idea that there is a de facto juvenile victim justice system, a complex set of agencies and institutions that responds to juvenile victims of crime and violence, including child maltreatment and conventional crime. The article offers a schematic model of that system and tries to quantify the case flow through its various components, that is, the likelihood that given certain actions (e.g., a substantiated finding of maltreatment), other actions will follow (e.g., services be provided). The model also highlights the activities of the system most likely to have consequential effects on victims. We argue that more professionals are needed who understand the system in its entirety, not just their own agency role, and who can help guide victims, families, and other professionals through its complexities. More efforts are also needed to integrate and rationalize the system, particularly through information exchange among its components.

Finkelhor, D., Cross, T.P. & Cantor, E. (2005). The justice system for juvenile victims: A comprehensive model of case flow. Trauma, Violence and Abuse, 6, 83-102.

Dec 2004 / Journal Publication    
When Children Cannot Return Home: Adoption and Guardianship
Mark Testa

Since the 1970s, finding alternative permanent families for children in foster care who could not return to their birth parents has been a primary goal of the child welfare system. Since that time, significant gains have been made in helping such children find permanent homes through adoption and guardianship. This article analyzes these trends and finds: A majority of states have doubled the number of adoptions from foster care over the 1995-97 baselines established by the federal government. Legal guardianship initiatives at the state level have been instrumental in helping thousands of children achieve permanence. Children who exit foster care to adoption tend to be younger than those who exit to guardianship. Post-permanency services and supports are important to the long-term success of these placements. Innovative efforts to find adoptive parents and legal guardians for children in foster care could transform the nature of foster care if the number of children permanently living with families who receive state subsidies begins to exceed the number of children living in foster care. Looking forward, these changes would require child welfare agencies to think creatively and thoughtfully about how best to serve families and the children in their care.

Testa, M. (2004). When children cannot return home: Adoption and guardianship. The Future of Children, 14, 115-129.

Aug 2004 / Research Brief / Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations    
Leslie Cohen, Mark Testa

This brief summarizes results from the Illinois Subsidized Guardianship Waiver Demonstration evaluation.


Jun 2004 / Journal Publication    
Removing Barriers to Service Delivery: An Outcome Evaluation of a "Remodelled" Foster Care Programme
Yvonne Unrau, Michael. Wells, Mary Ann Hartnett

This article describes a foster care program named Promise and presents evaluation findings based on a comparison group design evaluation. Promise allowed for greater discretion among line-level workers to meet the unique service needs of families served, promoted greater team-oriented communication and involved more foster family involvement than the comparison group. An initial statistical comparison revealed that foster children in the Promise group (n = 380) experienced greater stability in their caseworker assignment and, to a lesser degree, greater placement stability over a 15-month period when compared to foster children served under the conventional model (n = 436). However, only the caseworker continuity effect remained when further analysis was undertaken. Similar rates of permanency achievement were reported for both models. Implications for foster care policy, practice and research are presented.

Unrau, Y.A., Wells, M.A., Hartnett, M.A. (2004). Removing barriers to service delivery: An outcome evaluation of a remodeled foster care programme. Adoption and Fostering Journal, 28, 20-30.

May 2004 / Research Brief    
Joseph Ryan, Mark Testa

This brief describes the results of a study that compares delinquency rates for all maltreated and non-maltreated children in the city of Chicago and surrounding Cook County suburbs, identifies which victims of abuse and neglect are more likely to engage in delinquency, and determines whether or not substitute care placement and placement instability mediates the experience of maltreatment and delinquency.


Apr 2004 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Tamara Fuller & Martin Nieto

This report analyzes the impact of Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP) implementation on the safety of children investigated by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) for abuse and neglect. Child safety is assessed using data from DCFS' Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System (CANTS) and defined as the occurrence/nonoccurrence of an indicated allegation of maltreatment within 60 days of an initial investigation. The current analysis builds upon the results of previous reports, and confirms that maltreatment recurrence rates continue their overall decline in Illinois.


Mar 2004 / Journal Publication    
Influencing Social Workers to Use Research Evidence in Practice: Lessons from Medicine and the Allied Health Professions
Emmanuelle Gira, Michelle Kessler, John Poertner

This study sought to identify lessons for social workers from the health care research on influencing practitioners to use evidence-based practices (EBP). Research reviews of strategies to influence providers to use EBP are summarized. Among the findings are that printed educational materials, the use of local opinion leaders, and continuous quality improvement are weak interventions. Educational outreach visits and audit and feedback showed weak to moderate effects, whereas certain types of continuing education and use of computers showed moderate effects. Although much needs to be learned about providing social workers with the latest research knowledge, a combination of strategies is more likely to be effective.

Gira, E.C., Kessler, M.L., & Poertner, J. (2004). Influencing social workers to use research evidence in practice: Lessons from medicine and the allied health professions. Research on Social Work Practice, 14, 68-79.

Feb 2004 / Research Brief    
CFRC

This literature review examines the prevalence of placement moves among children in substitute care, as well as a summary of the empirical literature related to the risk and protective factors for placement stability.


Jan 2004 / Journal Publication    
Theodore Cross, Joseph Leavey, Peggy Mosley, Andrew White, and Jasmina Burdzovic Andreas

This study (N = 384) presents results from outcome measurement in a services network providing specialized foster care (SFC) to children in child protective service custody. A majority of participants improved on most outcomes. Global improvement was associated with increased length of stay up to two years, five months, and with younger age, fewer problems, and, paradoxically, the presence of a trauma history. Results suggest the value of SFC within managed services and of research using outcome measurement systems.

Cross, T.P., Leavey, J., Mosley, P.R., White, A.W. & Burdzovic Andreas, J. (2004). Outcomes of specialized foster care in a managed child welfare services network. Child Welfare, 83, 533-564.

Dec 2003 / Research Brief / Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations    
Joseph Ryan, Dick Louderman, Mark Testa

This brief describes the results of the Illinois Alcohol and Other Drug (AODA) Title IV-E waiver demonstration evaluation. This evaluation compared the efficacy of recovery coach services relative to the substance abuse service option that would have been available in the absence of the waiver.


Dec 2003 / Research Brief    
Mark Testa

This research brief describes recent changes in placement stability among children served by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and suggests several possible avenues for intervention.


Sep 2003 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Christina Bruhn, Mary Ann Hartnett

This brief summarizes the results from the first Illinois Child Well-Being Study (IL-CWB). This study, conducted in 2001, collected survey information from 351 children in foster care in Illinois, along with surveys of their caregivers, caseworkers, and teachers. Findings related to their physical and mental health, education, and permanency outcomes are summarized.


Aug 2003 / Research Brief    
Mark Testa, April Curtis, Hyun-ah Kang, Zakyia Kidd

Research suggests that the conservation of sibling ties for foster youth is a potentially important investment in young people's future well-being. Data from Illinois shows that it is possible to keep siblings together when relatives are recruited as foster parents. Even when extended kin are unavailable, the evaluation of the Neighbor to Neighbor program in Chicago indicates that it is possible to attain similar levels of siblings placed together if unrelated foster parents are recruited, trained, and hired as professionals for the task.


Jul 2003 / Report / Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations    
Mark Testa, Leslie Cohen, Grace Smith, Westat

The Subsidized Guardianship Waiver Demonstration, is designed to assess whether the availability of federal subsidies for private guardianship increases the number of children discharged to permanent homes with relatives or foster parents.


Jul 2003 / Research Brief    
Hyun-ah Kang

Dramatic growth of kinship care placements since the late 1980s has drawn attention from both child welfare practice and academia. Despite the increasing preferences for kinship care, scholars who have less optimistic views raise many concerns regarding quality of care. They question how well kinship care can achieve child welfare goals, such as child safety, well-being, and permanency in comparison with non-kinship care. This literature review examines recent research on the caregiving environments of kinship care. Special attention was paid to the comparisons of kinship versus non-kinship environments in terms of caregiver characteristics, receipt of services, placement stability, and achievement of permanency.


Jul 2003 / Journal Publication / Safety and Risk    
Predicting Maltreatment Recurrence Among CPS Cases with Alcohol and Other Drug Involvement
Tamara Fuller, Susan Wells

Evidence suggests that the number of Child Protective Services (CPS) cases involving families with alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems is increasing, which presents unique challenges to CPS workers who must be able to determine how a parent's substance use affects their child's safety. The current study examined the factors that are predictive of short-term (e.g. within 60 days) maltreatment recurrence among CPS cases with AOD involvement. Data was collected from 95 indicated investigations that involved caretaker AOD use as part of the maltreatment allegation. Analyses revealed that four factors were related to an increased risk of short-term maltreatment recurrence: 1) the safety assessment factor involving caretaker AOD use checked "yes;" 2) a high risk assessment rating for caretaker criminal behavior; 3) no police involvement during the investigation; and 4) families headed by single, African-American women. The implications of these findings for CPS practice are discussed in detail.

Fuller, T.L., & Wells, S.J. (2003). Predicting maltreatment recurrence among CPS cases with alcohol and other drug involvement. Children and Youth Services Review, 25, 553-569.

Jun 2003 / Journal Publication    
Illinois's Child Welfare Research Agenda: An Approach to Building Consensus for Practice-Based Research
Michelle Johnson, Susan Wells, Mark Testa, Jess McDonald

This article presents an 18-month consensus building initiative, employing a Delphi technique, to develop a research agenda reflective of the Illinois child welfare community's needs within the context of a university-agency partnership. The agenda building process provided a medium for building and solidifying key working relationships and ensuring the accountability of research activities to the public. Findings suggest the development of best practice models may be one of the most important contributions research can make to practice.

Johnson, M., Wells, S., Testa, M., & McDonald, J. (2003). Illinois's child welfare research agenda: An approach to building consensus for practice-based research. Child Welfare, 82, 53-75.

Jun 2003 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Hyun-ah Kang

Dramatic growth of kinship care placements since the late 1980s has drawn attention to the implications of kinship care for children's well-being. This review of the literature outlines and discusses empirical studies investigating well-being outcomes of children in kinship care. Studies reviewed focused on school performance, behavioral problems, mental health, and/or later adult functioning of children in kinship care.


May 2003 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Tamara Fuller, Martin Nieto, Mark Testa, Philip Garnier

This report analyzes the impact of Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP) implementation on the safety of children investigated by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) for abuse and neglect. Child safety is assessed using data from DCFS' Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System (CANTS) and defined as the occurrence/nonoccurrence of an indicated allegation of maltreatment within 60 days of an initial investigation. The current analysis builds upon the results of previous reports, and confirms that maltreatment recurrence rates continue their overall decline in Illinois. Additional analyses of maltreatment recurrence rates were done for children who were physically abused, and children with multiple maltreatment reports.


May 2003 / Report / Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations    
Mark Testa, Joseph Ryan, Dick Louderman, Joe Anna Sullivan, Sam Gillespie, Rosie Gianforte, Janelle Preuter, Dani Quasius

Substance abuse is a major problem for the children and families involved with public child welfare. Substance abuse may compromise appropriate parenting practices and increases the risk of child maltreatment. Moreover, barriers to substance abuse treatment delay reunification and permanence. It is hypothesized that the provision of Recovery Coach services will positively affect key child welfare outcomes (e.g. permanency). The purpose of this demonstration project is to improve permanency outcomes for children of parents with substance abuse problems. To achieve this purpose, Recovery Coaches assist parents with obtaining AODA treatment services and negotiating departmental and judicial requirements associated with drug recovery and permanency planning.


Apr 2003 / Journal Publication    
Understanding and Supporting Parent-Child Relationships During Foster Care Visits: Attachment Theory and Research
James Black, Jill Doner Kagle, Wendy Haight

Parent visitation, the scheduled, face-to-face contacts between parents and their children in foster care, is the primary intervention for maintaining and supporting the development of parent-child relationships necessary for reunification. A review of the child welfare literature, however, reveals that for some parents and children, visits are problematic. Indeed, parents and children's experiences of visits, the quality of interaction observed during visits, and outcomes for children vary widely. The parent-child attachment relationship is one important factor influencing the quality of visits. Attachment theory and research indicate that there are universal, developmental, variable, and problematic aspects of attachment relationships. These aspects of attachment relationships provide a heuristic approach for understanding, assessing, and intervening in parent-child relationships during foster care visits.

Haight, W.L., Kagle, J.D., & Black, J.E. (2003). Understanding and supporting parent-child relationships during foster care visits: Attachment theory and research. Social Work, 48, 195-207.

Jan 2003 / Journal Publication    
Theodore P. Cross, Wendy A. Walsh, Monique Simone, Lisa M. Jones

This study meta-analyzed rates of criminal justice decisions in 21 studies of prosecution of child abuse. Rates of referral to prosecution, filing charges, and incarceration varied considerably. Rates of carrying cases forward without dismissal were consistently 72% or greater. For cases carried forward, plea rates averaged 82% and conviction rates 94%. Compared to national data, child abuse was less likely to lead to filing charges and incarceration than most other felonies but more likely to be carried forward without dismissal. Diversion, guilty plea, and trial and conviction rates were about the same for child abuse and all violent crimes. Thus, prosecuting child abuse is generally neither feckless nor reckless. Rates can be misleading and cannot be the sole measure of prosecution success.

Cross, T.P., Walsh, W. , Simone, M. & Jones, L.M. (2003). Prosecution of child abuse: A meta-analysis of rates of criminal justice decisions. Trauma, Violence and Abuse, 4, 323-340.

Dec 2002 / Research Brief    
Sam Choi

Substance abuse by women is a major social issue and has a profound effect on the child welfare system. Substance-abusing women differ from substance-abusing males in many ways, including patterns of drug use, psychosocial characteristics, physiological consequences of drug use, and treatment needs. To accurately screen for women's substance abuse, these differences should be addressed fully in developing appropriate case plans for maltreating families, whether or not their children enter out-of-home care. Accordingly, this literature review specifically addresses the following questions: a) What are the existing drug assessment instruments that are empirically tested with female substance abusers? b) What research has been done on the reliability and validity of these instruments with women? c) What is the status of empirical studies on subgroups within the larger category of women?


Dec 2002 / Research Brief    
Hyun-ah Kang

The sibling bond is very important in children's development. Despite the importance of sibling relationships in child development, many children in out-of-home care continue to be placed apart from their siblings. The preservation of the sibling bond in out-of-homecare has now become a prominent issue in child welfare. This literature review includes studies on sibling separation patterns and factors, differences between children placed with siblings and children placed alone, foster mothers' and caseworkers' views on sibling placement, and the relationship between sibling separation and child functioning.


Nov 2002 / Research Brief    
Gail Tittle

Caseload size has been evaluated in various research efforts to determine effective case management. There have, however, been several approaches used to determine what might be termed the "ideal" caseload size to allow for child and parent clients to be best served. This literature review will look at the following questions: (1) Is there an "ideal" caseload size for best practice? (2) What factors are involved in determining best caseload size?


Sep 2002 / Research Brief    
Hyun-ah Kang

Until recently, the adult sibling relationship has received insufficient attention both from academia and the public. However, with increased numbers of studies, the importance of the adult sibling relationship is beginning to be recognized and many aspects of the relationship are starting to be uncovered. This literature review specifically addresses the following questions: (a) What is the significance of the adult sibling relationship? (b) What are the patterns and types of the adult sibling relationship? (c) What are the factors that affect the adult sibling relationship?


Jun 2002 / Report    
Making Visits Better: Supporting Parent-Child Relationships Through Foster Care Visitation
Wendy Haight, James Black, Cindy Workman, Lakshmi Tata

The researchers observed actual visits between mothers and their children and subsequently interviewed the mothers. In this paper the authors systematically describe how the mothers and children navigate their visits and how mothers perceive the interactions.


Jun 2002 / Journal Publication / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
The Child Health and Illness Profile: A Tool for Assessing Well Being in Group Homes and Institutions
Sandra Altshuler, John Poertner

Assessed levels of well-being of 63 12-19 year olds living in group homes or institutions, using the Child Health and Illness Profile-Adolescent Edition (CHIP--AE), a new standardized instrument. Results show that the youth reported high levels of satisfaction with their physical health, resilience, problem solving skills, and academic achievement. Youth reported low levels of self-esteem, emotional comfort and psychosocial stability, family involvement, and work performance. They also took more risks, had more threats to achievement, and had poorer peer influences than other youth. It is concluded that this study demonstrates the potential usefulness of the CHIP-AE as a tool for assessing the health and well-being of youth living in group homes and institutions.

Altshuler, S.J., & Poertner, J. (2002). The Child Health and Illness Profile - Adolescent edition: Assessing well-being in group homes or institutions. Child Welfare, 81, 495-513.

May 2002 / Report    
Mary Eamon

This report examines the impact of economic hardship on the rate of family reunification in Cook County. No relation between economic hardship and family reunification or attaining permanency was found when children who were reunited within 7 days were removed from the anlaysis. However, children whose families had one indicator of economic hardship, relative to no indicators, were .11 as likely to be returned within 7 days. The small percentage of children who were reunited in Cook County, and the 25% of reunited children who were returned to substitute care during the study period, suggest the need for continued research and practice efforts to identify and correct barriers to family reunification.


May 2002 / Research Brief    
Sam Choi, Gail Tittle

This literature review will review the issues of child maltreatment in the context of parental substance abuse, including the definition, prevalence, and incidence of substance abuse; studies investigating child maltreatment in the context of parental substance abuse; and studies investigating child maltreatment in multiple contexts including parental substance abuse. This paper will also discuss possible implications and future directions of research.


May 2002 / Research Brief    
Gail Tittle

Failure to thrive (FTT) is a descriptive condition of a child who falls to the bottom 3 to 5% or lower on established growth charts. Generally, failure to thrive is classified into three categories: non-organic or environmental, organic (attributable to organic disease), or mixed (interaction of organic and non-organic influences). This literature review examines the child factors and parent factors that have been found to be related to non-organic FTT.


May 2002 / Research Brief    
Sam Choi, Michelle Kessler, John Poertner, Gail Tittle

Bruises are commonly found on children who have been abused and can be an important indicator of child abuse. It is vital that medical and child welfare professional are able to distinguish bruises caused by ordinary accidents from non-accidental bruises caused in child maltreatment. While empirical research in this area is incomplete, this literature review examines information related to: prevalence of bruising among children, non-accidental versus accidental bruises, and aging of bruises.


Apr 2002 / Journal Publication    
Making Visits Better: The Perspectives of Parents, Foster Parents, and Child Welfare Workers
Wendy Haight, James Black, Sarah Manglesdorf, Grace Giorgio, Lakshmi Tata, Sarah Schoppe, Margaret Szewczyk

28 mothers of children recently placed in foster care, 13 foster mothers, and 24 child welfare workers participated in semi-structured, clinical interviews focusing on the challenges of parent visitation with young children. Mothers (aged 16-42 yrs) described their feelings of grief, trauma, and rage about the forced separation from their children and stressed the importance of emotional expression and communication during visits. Child welfare workers described the complexities of supporting emotionally close parent-child interactions while monitoring and assessing parental behavior during visits. Foster mothers described the importance of preparing children for visits and the difficulties of supporting the children afterward. Implications of understanding mothers', foster mothers', and child welfare workers' perspectives on enhancing the quality of visits with young children are discussed.

Haight, W.L., Black, J.E., Mangelsdorf, S., Giorgio, G., Tata, L., Schoppe, S.J., & Szewczyk, M. (2002). Making visits better: The perspectives of parents, foster parents, and child welfare workers. Child Welfare, 81, 173-202.

Apr 2002 / Journal Publication    
Predicting Placement in Foster Care: A Comparison of Logistic Regression and Neural Network Analysis
Tom McDonald, John Poertner, Gardenia Harris

This paper explores the use of neural network analysis (NNA) as an alternative to logistic regression to predict which children with a founded (indicated) child abuse/neglect report will be subsequently placed in foster care. The main advantages of NNA are that it is a nonparametric technique requiring no assumptions of normality that can readily accommodate both linear and nonlinear relationships and interactions without prior specification by the researcher. The two techniques were found to yield similar classification results for these data; however, NNA provides unique capabilities in analyzing and displaying interactions in predictor variables that may make it more useful for data mining.

McDonald, T.P., Poertner, J., & Harris, G. (2002). Predicting placement in foster care: A comparison of logistic regression and neural network analysis. Journal of Social Service Research, 28, 1-20.

Mar 2002 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Martin Nieto, Philip Garnier

This report analyzes the impact of Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP) implementation on the safety of children investigated by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) for abuse and neglect. For this study safety, is assessed using data from DCFS' Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System (CANTS). Safety is defined in terms of the occurrence/nonoccurrence of an indicated allegation of maltreatment within 60 days of an initial investigation. The current analysis builds upon the results of previous years' reports that found declining recurrence rates over the five years since the CERAP was first implemented.


Mar 2002 / Report    
Theresa Early, Douglas Mooney

This exploratory study seeks to gain insights into Department wards use of mental health services by examining Medicaid claims.


Mar 2002 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring, Safety and Risk    
CFRC

This annual report provides information on the performance of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services with regard to the outcomes for children who are in or at risk of substitute care. This monitoring report, required as part of the B.H. Consent Decree, examines measures of child safety and permanence. Detailed break-downs of each indicator by race and geographic region are provided in the appendix.


Mar 2002 / Report / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
Hyucksun Sunny Shin, John Poertner

The purpose of this study is to describe the well-being of a sample of foster youth who are likely to age out of the out-of-home care. The sample of youth between the ages of 16.5 and 17.5 in out-of-home care was drawn from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Integrated Database. Nearly 28% of the study group entered the care before age 7, and stayed in care until the age of 16.5 to 17.5. A number of these youth were experiencing substance abuse and educational problems.


Feb 2002 / Journal Publication    
The Gift of Kinship Foster Care
Mark Testa, Kristen Shook Slack

Examined kinship foster care as a gift relationship. Reunification rates and replacement rates into non-related foster care were analyzed within the statistical framework of competing risks to examine the effects of reciprocity, payment, empathy, and duty on the dynamics of kinship foster care. The study used a set of survey data on 983 kinship foster children in Cook County, Illinois. Survey responses were linked to computerized administrative records from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to create a 5-yr longitudinal file on placement changes from June 30, 1994 to June 30, 1999. Children whose parents were reported as regularly visiting and working toward regaining custody (reciprocity) were more likely to be reunified and less likely to be replaced than children whose parents were reported as non-cooperative with visitation and service plans. Controlling for reciprocity, children were also less likely to be replaced if caregivers retained the full foster care subsidy (payment), reported a good relationship with the child (empathy), grew-up in the American South, and attended church regularly (duty). The sensitivity of these findings to alternative specifications of the competing risks of foster care replacement and kinship transfers is reported.

Testa, M., & Slack, K.S. (2002). The gift of kinship foster care. Children and Youth Services Review, 24, 79-108.

Jan 2002 / Journal Publication    
Kinship Care and Permanency
Mark Testa

Examined whether kinship foster care should be favored as a form of permanency in and of itself or whether it should be avoided as a barrier to more binding forms of legal permanency (adoption, guardianship) in the child welfare system. The issue was examined using data from Cook County, Illinois, based on event history methods to analyze placement histories for 1992-1995 cohorts of 23,685 children and a 1994 matched, cross-sectional sample of 1,910 children. Results show that kin placements were more stable than non-kin placements, but that the advantage diminished with lengthier durations of care. It is suggested that current trends indicate a greater potential for legal permanency with kin than earlier literature has suggested.

Testa, M. (2002). Kinship care and permanency. Journal of Social Service Research, 28, 25-43.

Oct 2001 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Gail Tittle, John Poertner, Philip Garnier

This study replicates a previous study, "Child Maltreatment in Foster Care: A Study of Retrospective Reporting," and attempts to identify the degree to which retrospective reports might be counted in a safety indicator of abuse and neglect of children in out of home care. The results of this and the previous study indicate that current recurrence rates significantly over estimate the amount of child abuse and neglect incidents for children in out of home care. It is hoped that this study will provide a clearer picture of the level, circumstances, and types of child maltreatment that occur within the foster care system.


Aug 2001 / Journal Publication / Safety and Risk    
Reducing Recurrence in Child Protective Services: Impact of a Targeted Safety Protocol
John Fluke, Myles Edwards, Marian Bussey, Susan Wells, Will Johnson

Statewide implementation of a child safety assessment protocol by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in 1995 is assessed to determine its impact on near-term recurrence of child maltreatment. Literature on the use of risk and safety assessment as a decision-making tool supports the DCFS's approach. The literature on the use of recurrence as a summative measure for evaluation is described. Survival analysis is used with an administrative data set of 400,000 children reported to DCFS between October 1994 and November 1997. An ex-post facto design tests the hypothesis that the use of the protocol cannot be ruled out as an explanation for the observed decline in recurrence following implementation. Several alternative hypotheses are tested: change in use of protective custody, other concurrent changes in state policy, and the concurrent experience of other states. The impact of the protocol to reduce recurrence was not ruled out.

Fluke, J., Edwards, M., Bussey, M., Wells, S., & Johnson, W. (2001). Reducing recurrence in child protective services: Impact of a targeted safety protocol. Child Maltreatment, 6 207-218.

Jul 2001 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Martin Nieto, Philip Garnier

This report analyzes the impact of Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP) implementation on the safety of children investigated by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) for abuse and neglect. For this study safety, is assessed using data from DCFS' Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System (CANTS). Safety is defined in terms of the occurrence/nonoccurrence of an indicated allegation of maltreatment within 60 days of an initial investigation. The current analysis builds upon the results of previous years' reports that found declining recurrence rates over the four years since the CERAP was first implemented.


Jul 2001 / Report    
Morgan Ward Doran, Dorothy Roberts

This paper presents the findings from a study of families who both received welfare and experienced involvement with the child welfare system - so-called "dual-system families" (Geen et al., 2001). The investigators conducted in-depth, face-to-face interviews with a subset of sixteen dual-system parents drawn from the larger pool of families participating in the Illinois Families Study (IFS) with a goal of examining the experiences of the families in the IFS who both receive TANF and are involved in the Illinois child welfare system.


May 2001 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Gail Tittle, John Poertner, Philip Garnier

Children who are maltreated by their birth families are often removed from these families by the state to protect them from further harm. However, while under the care of the state, some foster children receive further harm. There is anecdotal evidence that some of the maltreatment attributed to foster care may, in fact, be retrospective events that occurred before the child entered care. This study attempts to identify the degree to which retrospective reports might be counted in a safety indicator of abuse and neglect of children in foster care.


Apr 2001 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring, Safety and Risk    
CFRC

This annual report provides information on the performance of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services with regard to the outcomes for children who are in or at risk of substitute care. This monitoring report, required as part of the B.H. Consent Decree, examines measures of child safety and permanence. Detailed break-downs of each indicator by race and geographic region are provided in the appendix.


Apr 2001 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Tamara Fuller, John Poertner

The fourth in a series of annual evaluations of the Illinois CERAP, this study examined caseworker compliance with CERAP safety assessment requirements at the investigation milestone (e.g., within 24 hours after the investigator first sees the alleged victim). Information regarding CERAP completion at this milestone, as well as completion of each of the four CERAP sections, was collected.


Mar 2001 / Report    
Jeanne Sokolec, Stephen Budde, John Poertner, Dennette Derezotes

This document is a training tool designed to enhance the integration of research into practice. Using the findings obtained in research by Wendy Haight et. al., it is a collaborative effort between CFRC, the Illinois Education Partnership, SSW, UIUC, and DCFS. Haight identifies four stages of the supervised visit in her research. The focus of this document is on improving the clinical knowledge and skills of workers with regard to visitation at each stage in the process so that they can better help parents optimize the visitation experience.


Feb 2001 / Report    
Steven Anderson and Kelly Righton

This study examines early TANF impacts on state policies related to children living with non-parental relatives. The study findings are based on a survey of state TANF and child welfare officials from 20 states.The study also sought to determine if state officials believed implementation of TANF was having discernable effects on foster care caseloads or the living circumstances of children in kinship care.


Jan 2001 / Report    
Morgan B. Ward Doran, Dorothy Roberts

The literature review examines current research on the impact of welfare reform on the child welfare system.


Jan 2001 / Journal Publication / Safety and Risk    
Predictors of Maltreatment Recurrence at Two Milestones in the Life of a Case
Tamara Fuller, Susan Wells, Ed Cotton

This article reports the findings from two studies that examined the usefulness of the Illinois Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP) for predicting short-term maltreatment recurrence. The CERAP is a safety assessment tool designed to guide worker decision-making throughout the life of a case and is completed at several critical case milestones. Two milestones were chosen - within 24 hours after the CPS investigator sees the alleged victim and within five days of case opening (for services to intact families) - for analysis in separate studies. For each study, a case control design was used in which a sample of families who experienced an indicated report of maltreatment recurrence within 60 days of CERAP completion were compared to a sample of families who did not experience maltreatment recurrence. Information from the CERAP was examined, as well as other case characteristics that have been shown to be predictive of recurrence, such as type and severity of abuse, number of previous indicated reports, and number of services provided.

Fuller, T.L., Wells, S.J., & Cotton, E.E. (2001). Predictors of maltreatment recurrence at two milestones in the life of a case. Children and Youth Services Review, 23, 49-78.

Jan 2001 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
Theodore P. Cross & Leonard Saxe

Polygraph tests to assess veracity are widely promoted for application in sexual abuse matters. The use of polygraph tests is advocated despite substantial differences in professional and scientific opinion about the validity of such techniques. Polygraph diagnoses of an individual's deception are inferences made by an examiner who compares physiological reactions to a set of questions. The test situation, however, is also used to induce examinees to admit crimes. In addition to their use in investigations, polygraph tests are used by defendants seeking exculpatory evidence and by treatment and probation programs to assess and monitor sexual offenders. Although there are dissenters, most knowledgeable scientists consider polygraph testing as unvalidated. Professionals need to access the literature on polygraph testing, evaluate the efficacy and ethics of polygraph tests in their community, and further develop standards for their use.

Cross, T.P. & L. Saxe (2001). Polygraph testing and sexual abuse: The lure of the magic lasso. Child Maltreatment, 6, 195-206.

Nov 2000 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring, Safety and Risk    
CFRC

This annual report provides information on the performance of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services with regard to the outcomes for children who are in or at risk of substitute care. This monitoring report, required as part of the B.H. Consent Decree, examines measures of child safety and permanence. Detailed break-downs of each indicator by race and geographic region are provided in the appendix.


Oct 2000 / Report    
Michelle Johnson and Susan Wells

This report gathers and evaluates clinical measures which have been used in child welfare settings. Measures of both child and family functioning are included as well as alternatives to clinical measures.


Oct 2000 / Journal Publication / Safety and Risk    
Using Administrative Data to Assess Child Safety in Out-of-Home Care
Philip Garnier, John Poertner

This article describes efforts to produce useful safety measures from administrative data. A measure similar to that proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is presented and compared to a measure that takes into account the length of time children are in placement. These measures are also reported for out-of-home care placement types. The challenges posed in constructing such measures from extant data are discussed.

Garnier, P.C.., & Poertner, J. (2000). Using administrative data to assess child safety in out-of-home care. Child Welfare, 79, 597-613.

Sep 2000 / Journal Publication    
The Parents with Children in Foster Care Satisfaction Scale
John Poertner, Gardenia Harris, Sean Joe

The authors describe an instrument designed to assess the service satisfaction of parents who have children in out of home placement. Survey items were generated through interviews and focus groups with parents and experienced social workers. Pilot testing of the items resulted in a 24-item scale. The scale demonstrated high reliability with a Cronbach's alpha of .97. Validity was examined through the inclusion of a general satisfaction scale. A correlation of .6 between the scales provides evidence for a moderate level of validi-ty for the scale. Suggestions for using the parent satisfaction scale to improve service quality are included.

Harris, G., Poertner, J., & Joe, S. (2000). The Parents with Children in Foster Care Satisfaction Scale. Administration in Social Work, 24, 15-27.

Jul 2000 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Philip Garnier, Martin Nieto

This report is an update of the April 15, 1999 CERAP evaluation prepared by the American Humane Association. Data on the safety of children investigated by DCFS, as reflected in the Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System (CANTS) from December 1, 1995 through November 30, 1999, is included. The first section presents simple frequency counts, while the second presents an event-history analysis of changes in short-term maltreatment recurrence rates from the year before the first implementation of CERAP through the four years following implementation.


Jun 2000 / Report    
Susan Wells, Tamara Fuller

The goal of this report is to present elements of best practice in Family Centered Services and to provide an extensive review of outcome measures. Much of the work presented will be adapted for a manual that will be used in providing technical assistance to the state and localities in the coming year.


Jun 2000 / Report    
Dennette Derezotes, Jeanne Sokolec, Dawn Dannenbring-Carlson

This document is a practice guide designed to enhance the integration of research into practice. Using results obtained from the study "Caregiver Burden in Kinship Foster Care: Impact of Social Support on Caregiver Emotional Distress" by Rocco Cimmarusti, the CFRC, the Illinois Education Partnership, the UIUC School of Social Work, and DCFS collaborated to produce this paper as a tool for workers in the field.


Jun 2000 / Research Brief    
Emmanuelle Gira

This review summarizes the empirical literature related to interviewing children as part of maltreatment investigation. Topics include the suggestibility of children's memory, the influence of age, interview techniques that increase suggestibility, and guidelines for interviewing children.


Apr 2000 / Report    
Gail Tittle, Gardenia Harris, John Poertner

This report adds case record data to the administrative data used in the previous report to focus on factors used by caseworkers in making the decision to place a child.


Mar 2000 / Report    
Shradha Tibrewal, John Poertner

This paper reviews research on confidence and uncertainty from cognitive psychology literature and its applicability to social work supervision and decision-making. Various factors influencing confidence and uncertainty are examined and strategies that supervisors can use to reduce uncertainty and increase confidence in decision-making are discussed.


Jan 2000 / Journal Publication    
Child Welfare Outcomes Revisited
John Poertner, Tom McDonald, Cyndi Murray

The use of outcome measures in child welfare has been part of agency and academic discussions for at least two decades. In 1989, T. McDonald et al. contributed to the implementation of an outcome focus through the publication of "Child Welfare Standards for Success." That paper presented the results of a comprehensive review of published and unpublished research that reported on outcomes of the major public child welfare programs: protective services, substitute care and adoption. The purpose of this paper is to revisit the field to gather additional outcome studies and to determine if broader agreement can be reached on both the definitions of outcome measures and standards for evaluating success. Discussion is included on issues of the use of outcome data for management decision-making, court monitoring, and community involvement.

Poertner, J., McDonald, T.P., & Murray, C. (2000). Child welfare outcomes revisited. Children and Youth Services Review, 22, 789-810.

Dec 1999 / Report    
Susan Wells, Jean Agathen

The Children and Family Research Center conducted this project to create and test instruments that measure the quality of kinship foster homes. The resulting instruments were designed for use by foster care providers to evaluate the quality of homes under their supervision. The study was conducted with the aid and support of the Survey Research Laboratory, University of Illinois at Chicago; the Research Triangle Institute; the American Bar Association's Center on Children and the Law and the Child Welfare League of America.


Aug 1999 / Report    
Gardenia Harris, John Poertner

This study focuses on the factors caseworkers use in making the decision to place a child. Data drawn from case files and the DCFS Integrated Database were used to compare decisions to place a child in substitute care against decisions to leave a child in an intact family.


Jul 1999 / Journal Publication / Safety and Risk    
How Safe Are Out-of-Home Placements
John Poertner, Marian Bussey, John Fluke

A primary reason to place children in an alternative living arrangement is to protect them from abuse or neglect. However, few studies exist that examine the safety of substitute care. This paper reports the results of a study of the rate of abuse and neglect for substitute care for a large state public child welfare agency using the existing management information systems. Findings include that the percent of indicated reports of abuse and neglect for children in out-of-home care ranged from a low of 1.7% to a high of 2.3% over a five year period. Re-abuse rates are also reported by type of substitute care placement and are examined by age of child, type of abuse and perpetrator relationship for each type of out-of-home placement. Results of this study contribute to the emerging literature on the safety of substitute care.

Poertner, J., Bussey, M., & Fluke, J. (1999). How safe are out-of-home placements? Children and Youth Services Review, 21, 549-563.

Jul 1999 / Report    
Mary Ann Hartnett, Lydia Falconnier, Sonya Leathers, Mark Testa

There is a gap between children's behavioral needs and the foster care system's performance in meeting those needs. Both foster parents and caseworkers reported that unmet child behavioral need was by far the most important reason for placement changes.


Jun 1999 / Report    
Douglas Thomson, Susan Wells

This report presents an evaluation of the FCS Initiative from 1995-1999, the first five years of the project. While the data available varied over the course of implementation, to a large degree much of the analysis focuses on years three, four, and five of the project. Conducted in two phases, the evaluation presents findings regarding the implementation of FCS in local communities - its goals, services, successes, and obstacles - as well as the impact that FCS services have had on communities, families, and children.


Apr 1999 / Report / Safety and Risk    
John Fluke, Myles Edwards, Marian Bussey

This report is the third of the annual evaluations of the Illinois Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP). Using IDCFS administrative data, the short-erm (i.e., within 60 days) maltreatment recurrence rates for children investigated by IDCFS are compared for the year immediately prior to CERAP implementation and the three years post-implementation.


Apr 1999 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Tamara Fuller, Susan Wells

This study is the second in a series of annual evaluations of the implementation of Illinois' Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP). Caseworker compliance with CERAP safety assessment requirements was examined for three milestones in the life of a case: 1) within 24 hours after the investigator first sees the alleged victim, 2) within 5 working days after case opening, and 3) immediately prior to closing a service case.


Feb 1999 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring, Safety and Risk    
CFRC

This annual report provides information on the performance of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services with regard to the outcomes for children who are in or at risk of substitute care. This monitoring report, required as part of the B.H. Consent Decree, examines measures of child safety and permanence. Detailed break-downs of each indicator by race and geographic region are provided in the appendix.


Dec 1998 / Report    
Ed Mech, Carrie Che-Man Fung

This report compares disabled and non-disabled foster youth, ages 16-21, with respect to their preparation for independent living. Comparisons were made in the following areas: (a) permanency goals, (b) placement restrictiveness levels, (c) educational progress, (d) placement changes, and (e) potential for economic independence. Based on analysis of 18,000 (+) cases, the main findings were: 1) placement restrictiveness scores for disabled youths were twice as high as the placement restrictiveness scores for non-disabled youth, 2) disabled wards experienced twice as many placement changes as did non-disabled youth, with 1 in 3 odds of moving into a more restrictive placement for each successive change in residence, and 3) with respect to educational progress, the 80% (+) who are working below grade level for age does not offer an optimistic picture regarding potential for economic self-sufficiency.


Nov 1998 / Report    
CFRC

The agenda, created to assist in the linkage between research and practice, is the result of many discussions between the Center and DCFS workers, supervisors, and administrators; various advisory groups, child welfare service provider agencies, and advocacy groups; LAN providers and foster parents; and researchers and experts in the field. The resulting document is a guide to help set the direction for knowledge building in child welfare research and to help provide a firm footing for Research-Based Practice in the State of Illinois.


Nov 1998 / Report / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    
John Poertner

This paper is a discussion of some of the various safety, permanency, and well-being variables that will be assessed by the Children and Family Research Center for producing periodic outcome reports.


Aug 1998 / Report / Safety and Risk    
Tamara Fuller, Susan Wells

This report summarizes ongoing research regarding implementation and validation of the CERAP and focuses on 1) review of case records for intact and substitute care cases, with analysis of CERAP use by follow-up caseworkers; 2) examination of reduction in recurrences of abuse and neglect for children already reported; and 3) comparison of cases where abuse or neglect recurred with those where there were no subsequent indicated reports.


Jul 1998 / Report    
Jeane Marsh, Tom D'Aunno, Brenda Smith

This report provides an evaluation of the DASA/DCFS Initiative program, a cooperative program between DASA and DCFS, established in FY95 by the Illinois legislature to provide accessible and effective services for DCFS clients with substance abuse problems. Overall, the findings indicate that the Initiative programs were successfully implemented and were successful in reducing participants' drug use.


Jun 1998 / Report    
Gardenia Harris, John Poertner

Measurement of client satisfaction is becoming increasingly popular because of its role in quality assurance and continuous quality improvement systems. Clients have a wealth of information regarding the functioning of social service programs and gathering their views provides valuable insights about how they experience services. This review focuses on recent literature and measures of client satisfaction. These measures are examined in terms of their ability to reflect clients' actual experiences, the dimensions of satisfaction they are intended to measure, and their ability to obtain quality data from clients.


Apr 1998 / Report    
Sonya Leathers, Mark Testa, Lydia Falconnier

This report presents the findings of the Levels of Care (LOC) Project. The following research questions are examined: 1) What is the inter-rater reliability of the scoring of the revised LOC assessment materials and the effectiveness of training? 2) What is the severity of special needs among children in specialized foster care as determined through professional in-person, clinical assessments of the children (the 'gold standard')? 3) How adequately are children served in the current specialized foster care system? 4) How does the scoring process provided by the revised LOC assessment form and supplemental materials correspond to the clinical 'gold standard'? 5) What are the appropriate weighting of items and the cut-off scores which should be used to distinguish different levels of care?


Jan 1998 / Report    
Susan Wells, Michelle Johnson

Child welfare managers and administrators are increasingly concerned with performance-based evaluation of service delivery and incorporation of managed care principles into foster care settings. Evaluating outcomes is seen as a mechanism to identify and reward the most effective programs; inform the public and legislature about the accomplishments and progress of agencies serving children; and identify programs which are ineffective in achieving desired goals. As with most new management tools, using outcome measures to set performance standards is fraught with pitfalls as well as filled with the promise of increased clarity of purpose and goal achievement. The authors summarize briefly the status of measure development in five child welfare arenas and present major considerations in developing outcomes for use in a performance management environment, such as guidance for dimensional deliberation fundamental to identifying and selecting indicators and their measures; development and use of an outcomes framework; and appropriate use of outcome measures in agency management. Steps for selection of domains, indicators and measures are detailed.


Jan 1998 / Journal Publication    
Supporting Families as They Adopt Children With Special Needs
Laurie Kramer, Doris Houston

Identifies the types of formal and informal supports that are used and desired by families parenting children with special medical, behavioral, or developmental needs. Results indicate that informal, agency-linked resources, such as access to family-resource-support specialists and experienced "master" adoptive parents, appear to be relatively untapped sources.

Kramer, L., & Houston, D. (1998). Supporting families as they adopt children with special needs. Family Relations, 47, 423-432.

Apr 1997 / Report / Safety and Risk    
John Fluke, Myles Edwards, Will Johnson

This is the first of the annual evaluation of the Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP), a safety assessment protocol implemented by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in 1996. This evaluation compares the rate of short-term maltreatment recurrence during the year prior to CERAP implementation with the rate in the year following implementation. Alternative explanations for the results are ruled out through additional analyses.