Child Safety & Well-being
Adverse Childhood Experiences
Childhood experiences, both positive and negative, have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration, and lifelong health and opportunity. As such, early experiences are an important public health issue. Much of the foundational research in this area has been referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are stressful or traumatic events, including abuse and neglect. They may also include household dysfunction such as witnessing domestic violence or growing up with family members who have substance use disorders. ACEs are strongly related to the development and prevalence of a wide range of health problems throughout a person’s lifespan, including those associated with substance misuse.
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Physical neglect
- Emotional neglect
- Intimate partner violence
- Mother treated violently
- Substance misuse within household
- Household mental illness
- Parental separation or divorce
- Incarcerated household member
SAFETY DECISION MAKING
“We face today the same struggle that has dogged the field for decades: Ensuring that you leave at home kids who are safe and bring into foster care those kids who are not. However simple that sounds in theory, it is extremely difficult in practice,” says Tracey Feild, managing director of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Child Welfare Strategy Group.
A safety assessment is the systematic collection of information on threatening family conditions and current, significant, and clearly observable threats to the safety of the child or youth. The purpose is to determine the degree to which a child or youth is likely to suffer maltreatment in the immediate future. A risk assessment is the collection and analysis of information to determine the degree to which key factors are present in a family situation that increase the likelihood of future maltreatment to a child or adolescent.
Many child welfare agencies use safety or risk assessment instruments to help workers assess families. These tools can provide a structure for assessing current and future harm to the child. However, used alone they do not provide a comprehensive picture of the family or help engage them in problem solving. These tools are considered to be most effective when they are directly connected to service planning and monitoring ongoing progress of the case.
Louisiana currently uses Child Safety: A Guide for Judges and Attorneys that was developed by the National Resource Center for Child Protective Services and the National Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues. This Guide provides a framework for judicial decision making in dependency cases to ensure the safety of the child is paramount. It addresses the fundamentals of safety assessments and safety planning. The guide’s methodology requires judges to gather specific information, analyze facts, and apply a consistent model of practice that ultimately improves the court process. It can be found at the following link: click here.
Report: Youth in Foster Care Need Family, Not Just Skills for Independence
Over the last 20 years the number of children in foster care has decreased significantly. Yet during this same period, the number of teenagers aging out of foster care without finding a permanent family has increased annually. Youth who exit care without achieving permanency are at risk of several negative outcomes, including lower income, poorer health, and higher arrest rates than their peers in the general population.
For too long child well-being had been, and in some instances still is, characterized simply as the absence of bad things (e.g., absence of mental illness, trauma or violence). Protecting children from harm is necessary but not sufficient. Child well-being instead should be defined by the successful attainment of all relevant and appropriate developmental milestones, the realization of internal (such as resiliency) and external (such as secure attachment) capacities known to be associated with future success, and the ability to relate to themselves, their peers and to the world around them as children.
Child well-being represents the whole child:
- Physical health, development, and safety
- Psychological and emotional development
- Social development and behavior
- Cognitive development and educational achievement
The Child Well-Being Index measures are:
% Low Weight Births
% Students Exceeding 3rd Grade Reading Standards*
% Students Exceeding 8th Grade Math Standards
High School Graduation Rate *
High School, College & Career Readiness Score*
% Children without Health Insurance
% Children in Poverty
*Especially strong drivers of outcomes
% Families Not Financially Stable
% Families with Housing Cost Burden
% Births to Mothers without a High School Diploma
% Enrolled in Post-Secondary Education
% Adults without a High School Diploma
% Adults without Health Insurance
Promoting Child & Family Well-Being: Click here to learn more.
Using CASAs to Promote Child Well-Being Download attachments: Click here to download.
THE FULL FRAME APPROACH AND THE FIVE DOMAINS OF WELLBEING: Click here to learn more.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT: Click here to learn more.
HELPING KIDS FROM HARD PLACES: Trust-Based Relational Intervention®
TBRI® is an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. TBRI® uses Empowering Principles to address physical needs, Connecting Principles for attachment needs, and Correcting Principles to disarm fear-based behaviors. While the intervention is based on years of attachment, sensory processing, and neuroscience research, the heartbeat of TBRI® is connection.
TBRI® is designed for children from “hard places” such as abuse, neglect, and/or trauma. Because of their histories, it is often difficult for these children to trust the loving adults in their lives, which often results in perplexing behaviors. TBRI® offers practical tools for parents, caregivers, teachers, or anyone who works with children, to see the “whole child” in their care and help that child reach his highest potential.
About All Children – All Families
HRC’s All Children – All Families, a project of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, promotes LGBTQ inclusive policies and affirming practices among child welfare agencies and formally recognizes those agencies that are leading the field with innovative approaches to inclusion.
Research demonstrates the crucial nature of this work. LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in foster care, many having been rejected by their families because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Too often these young people then enter child welfare systems that further traumatize them due to a lack of inclusive policies and practices. At the same time, the LGBTQ community remains an untapped resource when it comes to finding families for children and youth in foster care. For these reasons, the project focuses on supporting agencies’ efforts to achieve safety, permanency and well- being by improving practice with LGBTQ youth and families. Since the project began in 2007, agencies across the country have recognized the importance of this work and utilized ACAF resources.