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THE RESEARCH RESOURCE 

Volume 12 | February 2016 

 
A Letter from Our Director
 
Happy Valentine's Day from the Children and Family Research Center. We hope your 2016 is off to a great start. 

Our 2016 brings exciting new challenges. In our Oregon DR Evaluation project, data collection from families and staff begins this month. We expect surveys to start arriving from parents soon. 

We also have news on our annual monitoring report of the B.H. consent decree. Just in time for the 2015 report to be posted on our website (more on that below), we're also commencing work on this year's report examining safety, permanency, and well-being of foster children in Illinois. It's a good time to reflect on the work we have performed over the last 20 years, and how honored we are to continue to serve Illinois' children in care. 

20 years! CFRC was founded in 1996, and this year is sure to be one of celebration, reflection, and resolution to continue our work for another 20 years and beyond. 

We hope you enjoy our February newsletter.
Tamara Fuller, Ph.D., Director, Children and Family Research Center

Project Updates and News

B.H. Report for 2015

As mentioned above, the annual monitoring report of the B.H. consent decree has been posted on our website. Click here to download it for yourself. Would you like a hard copy? Contact us via the information below. We'd be happy to send you one. For the first time ever, we also prepared a video presentation of highlights from the report. You can view (and download) that video here.

Other Project Updates

Our evaluation projects in Wisconsin and Oregon are proceeding as planned. For Oregon, the 8,000 surveys we copied and prepared in-house have made their way to child welfare offices in Oregon. Families began receiving them on February 1. Data collection continues in other areas as well. Our partner, Pacific Research and Evaluation, will soon begin the second round of focus groups and interviews, and CFRC will distribute an online survey to Oregon child welfare staff in mid-February. We also prepared our first interim report for the project in mid-December. 

We also continued to collect data for the evaluation of Wisconsin's Post Reunification Support (P.S.) program. We continue to collect parent surveys as well as data from caseworkers in the 38 counties that have implemented the P.S. program. Each month, we compile the data for the state to provide continual feedback on report completion, most frequently used services, and case plan services not provided that month. We've also begun production of the Interim Evaluation Report, which will be submitted to the Children's Bureau in May.

Comings and Goings

We welcome two new faces in our Chicago office as part of our Foster Care Utilization Review Program (FCURP) team. Ms. Linda Raczak and Dr. Candace Thier were hired as research data analysts late last year. Both Linda and Candace come to FCURP with extensive child welfare experience in private child welfare agencies that operate in the Chicago area.  

Linda's current research and practice interests are focused on foster care placement decision-making, including studying the effects of multiple moves on children. Candace's research and practice interests are with older youth in care and their transition to independence and adulthood. 

Inside CFRC

In this newsletter, we take a look back at the Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) conference, held here at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's School of Social Work and sponsored/facilitated by the School of Social Work and CFRC. We talk with Jennifer Eblen-Manning, the program director of CFRC's FCURP team. Jennifer and her team organized and ran the conference.

What inspired the conference? 

The conference was the brain child of the Illinois Private Child Welfare CQI Community Group. I serve as a member of that group. CQI is a big topic in child welfare right now, and we wanted a chance for people interested in CQI to get together, discuss what works and doesn't work, and further improve how CQI functions in their organizations. 

How did the conference go? Do you think it was successful?

It was a wonderful conference, both from my perspective and from the feedback we got from those who attended. The conference has even inspired new CQI collaborations between DCFS and private agencies. We hope it has started a bigger conversation about how to do CQI and the ways it can improve care for children in the state.

One of the biggest reasons it was successful was the amazing help we had. The conference would not have been possible without the support and expertise of Dean Wynne Korr, Dr. Tami Fuller, Jaime Waymouth, Amy Hiles and her staff, Tony Hillen, and Dan Phillips.  A very warm and hearty thanks to all of you!

What about for people who couldn't make it? Are there resources from the conference that they can access? 

We worked really hard to make this possible. There is a lot of material from the conference available on the conference website. Please visit the site and check it out! 

Specifically, visitors will find recordings of the full day of interactive workshops and presentations from CQI professionals from across the state. There are presentations on all levels of the CQI process, whether just beginning CQI or looking to take it to a new level. You can also view our keynote speaker Peter Watson present a national perspective on CQI. 

What's next for CQI efforts in the state?

We continue our efforts to support agencies in their use of CQI. Ideally, all agencies would feel empowered to use these methods to improve their care. If you are interested in CQI, whether starting or expanding, please email me

What We're Reading

Our CFRC Journal Club continues to flourish. Here are a couple articles we've read for our monthly discussion group.

Late in 2015, we read an article by Bethany Lee and Ron Thompson: Comparing Outcomes for Youth in Treatment Foster Care and Family-Style Group Care from Children and Youth Services Review. This article explores the value of group care programs, especially those that attempt to create a home-like setting for youth. Given that we need more foster parents all over the country, it's good to see exploration of other models that attempt to provide some of the benefits of a stable foster home for children in group care. 

For our meeting in January, we read Tessa Bell and Elisa Romano's recent article in Trauma, Violence, and Abuse, titled Permanency and Safety Among Children in Foster Family and Kinship Care: A Scoping Review. It's a great resource for recent, empirical research on factors of permanency and safety of children in care. We found the article's extensive tables to be especially helpful. 

Do you have any reading suggestions for us? Let us know via the contact information below.

Connect with Us

We want to hear from you! You can contact CFRC at cfrc@illinois.edu or via phone at (217) 333-5837. Visit our website at http://cfrc.illinois.edu. Follow the School of Social Work on Twitter @UofISocialWork or like the School on Facebook.

Thanks for reading! Look for our next newsletter in May.