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 Issue 9  |  February 2015  


What's ahead in 2015 at the Children and Family Research Center?


In this issue of the Research Resource, we take a look at what's coming up at the CFRC

CFRC begins work on the Oregon Differential Response Initiative


A CFRC evaluation team, led by Director Tamara Fuller, was selected by the Oregon Department of Human Services to evaluate their Differential Response (DR) Initiative. The Oregon DR Initiative [TLF1] has several goals, including keeping children safely at home and in their communities following a maltreatment report; increasing partnerships between families, child welfare, and community organizations; and reducing the disproportionate representation of children of color in the Oregon child welfare system. DR was implemented in three Oregon counties in 2014, with another four counties planning to implement in 2015. The multi-year evaluation, which begins in January 2015, will examine how the initiative is implemented as well as its effectiveness in achieving improved outcomes for children and families with screened in maltreatment reports. As part of the Oregon DR evaluation, the CFRC will be collecting information from parents, DHS staff, and community partners. Updates and findings of the Oregon DR evaluation will be posted on the Differential Response research page on the CFRC website.


Evaluating Post-Reunification Services in Wisconsin

The CFRC is partnering with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) to evaluate their Title IV-E waiver demonstration project, known as the Post-reunification Support (P.S.) Program . The P.S. Program evaluation is entering its second year and CFRC evaluators are currently analyzing data collected during site visits to six Wisconsin counties. During the site visits, CFRC researchers met with child welfare caseworkers, supervisors, administrators, and other child welfare stakeholders to gain insight into program practice during the first year of the program. The results of the site visit data collection will be included in a report that is provided to the Wisconsin DCF and the Children's Bureau (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) and will also be available on the Center's child welfare waiver demonstration webpage.


Monitoring Critical Child Welfare Outcomes in Illinois


For the past 15 years, the CFRC has produced an annual report that monitors the performance of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) under the B.H. Consent Decree. Using administrative data, the CFRC has developed 43 indicators that assess the Department's performance in keeping children safe from additional maltreatment, ensuring placement stability for those in substitute care, and finding permanent homes for children through reunification, adoption, or guardianship. The importance of this monitoring function cannot be understated. The results of the Center's B.H. Consent Decree monitoring report are used by the B.H. plaintiff attorneys, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and child welfare agencies throughout the state to determine which areas of child welfare practice deserve further attention or modifications. The most recent B.H. monitoring report, which examines Illinois child welfare data through 2013, will be available on the CFRC outcome monitoring webpage in mid-March; all previous monitoring reports can also be downloaded.


Examining Child Fatalities in Illinois   


In response to the national movement to reduce preventable child deaths, Illinois established multidisciplinary and multi-agency Child Death Review Teams (CDRTs) throughout the state by enacting the Child Death Review Team Act (P.A. 88-614) on September 7, 1994. There are nine regional CDRTs in Illinois that review the circumstances of all child deaths in which there was prior family involvement with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) within the past 12 months. In addition, CDRTs are also statutorily permitted to review at their discretion any unexplained or unexpected child death in Illinois. The goal of child death review is to examine the ways that the deaths might have been prevented, promote continuing education for professionals involved in investigating, treating, and preventing child abuse and neglect, making specific recommendations to the Director and Inspector General of DCFS concerning the prevention of child deaths, and reporting findings and recommendations to the Illinois governor, legislature, and other interested parties. Since 1997, the CFRC has conducted the data analyses and written the CDRT annual report. The report on child deaths that occurred in 2013 will be published soon and available on the DCFS website.