Administrations in Children, Youth and Families (ACYF)
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the federal government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves. Within HHS, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is the agency responsible for federal programs that promote the economic and social well-being of families, children, individuals, and communities. The Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) within ACF, administers national programs for children and youth; works with States, tribes, and local communities to develop services that support and strengthen family life; seeks joint ventures with the private sector to enhance the lives of children and their families; and provides information and other assistance to parents. Many of the programs administered by ACYF focus on children from low-income families; abused and neglected children; children and youth in need of foster care, independent living, adoption, or other child welfare services; preschool children; children with disabilities; runaway and homeless youth; and children from Native American and migrant families.
Within ACYF, the Children's Bureau (CB) plans, manages, coordinates, and supports child abuse and neglect prevention, and child welfare services programs. CB is the agency within the federal government that is responsible for assisting child welfare systems by promoting continuous improvement in the delivery of child welfare services. CB programs are designed to promote the safety, permanency, and well-being of all children, including those in foster care, available for adoption, recently adopted, abused, neglected, dependent, disabled, or homeless, and to prevent the neglect, abuse, and exploitation of children. (For more information about CB's programs, visit http:// www.acf.hhs.gov/ programs/ cb.
Ensuring the Well-Being of Vulnerable Children and Families
ACYF is committed to facilitating healing and recovery and promoting the social and emotional well-being of children who have experienced maltreatment, exposure to violence, and/or trauma. This FOA and other discretionary spending this fiscal year are designed to ensure that effective interventions are in place to build skills and capacities that contribute to the healthy, positive, and productive functioning of children and youth into adulthood.
Children who have experienced maltreatment, exposure to violence, and/or trauma are impacted along several domains, each of which must be addressed in order to foster social and emotional well-being and promote healthy, positive functioning:
- Understanding Experiences: A fundamental aspect of the human experience is the development of a world view through which one's experiences are understood. Whether that perspective is generally positive or negative impacts how experiences are interpreted and integrated. For example, one is more likely to approach a challenge as a surmountable, temporary obstacle if his or her frame includes a sense that "things will turn out alright." On the contrary, negative experiences can color how future experiences are understood. Ongoing experiences of abuse might lead children to believe they deserve to be maltreated and affect their ability to enter into and stay engaged in safe and healthy relationships. Interventions should seek to address how young people frame what has happened to them in the past and their beliefs about the future.
- Developmental Tasks: People grow physically and psychosocially along a fairly predictable course, encountering normal challenges and establishing competencies as they pass from one developmental stage to another. However, adverse events have a marked effect on the trajectory of normal social and emotional development, delaying the growth of certain capacities, and, in many cases, accelerating the maturation of others. Intervention strategies must be attuned to the developmental impact of negative experiences and address related strengths and deficits to ensure children and youth develop along a healthy trajectory.
- Coping Strategies: The methods that young people develop to manage challenges both large and small are learned in childhood, honed in adolescence, and practiced in adulthood. Those who have been presented with healthy stressors and opportunities to overcome them with appropriate encouragement and support are more likely to have an array of positive, productive coping strategies available to them as they go through life. For children who grow up in unsafe, unpredictable environments, the coping strategies that may have protected them in that context may not be appropriate for safer, more regulated situations. Interventions should help children and youth transform maladaptive coping methods into healthier, more productive strategies.
- Protective Factors: A wealth of research has demonstrated that the presence of certain contextual factors (e.g., supportive relatives, involvement in after-school activities) and characteristics (e.g., self-esteem, relationship skills) can moderate the impacts of past and future negative experiences. These protective factors are fundamental to resilience; building them is integral to successful intervention with children, youth, and families.
The skills and capacities in these areas support children and youth as challenges, risks, and opportunities arise. In particular, each domain impacts the capacity of young people to establish and maintain positive relationships with caring adults and supportive peers. The necessity of these relationships to social and emotional well-being and lifelong success in school, community, and at home cannot be overstated and should be integral to all interventions with vulnerable children and youth. Additionally, building these skills and capacities through the implementation of effective interventions will ready children, youth, and families for positive permanency outcomes.
An important component of promoting social and emotional well-being includes addressing the impact of trauma, which can have a profound effect on the overall functioning of children and youth. ACYF promotes a trauma-informed approach, which involves understanding and responding to the symptoms of chronic interpersonal trauma and traumatic stress across the domains outlined above, as well as the behavioral and mental health sequel of trauma.
ACYF anticipates a continued focus on social and emotional well-being as a critical component of its overall mission to ensure the safety, permanency, and well-being of children.
Working With Other CB Discretionary Grant Projects
CB currently funds approximately 300 discretionary grant projects in over 50 program areas. Through their work with a broad spectrum of populations within the child welfare arena, discretionary grantees develop a wealth of knowledge across numerous program areas. The findings from these programs can be useful in informing the field. Applicants are strongly encouraged to utilize the knowledge being developed by CB discretionary research and demonstration projects and other related Training and Technical Assistance (T/TA) activities when developing proposals in response to this FOA. For more information on CB discretionary grant programs, please see http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/grants/discretionary-grant and http://basis.caliber.com/cbgrants/ws/library/docs/cb_grants/GrantHome.
The Role of Workforce Development Initiatives
The role of workforce development initiatives in the field of child welfare is critical. For children who have experienced trauma, healing and recovery take place in safe, nurturing contexts. The foundation to an approach that promotes well-being is a knowledgeable workforce assuring the use of an effective, trauma-informed response to the children and families they serve. In order to meet the goals of promoting social and emotional well-being, it is of great priority to increase the capacity of the workforce to meet the needs of children and families (ACYF, 2012).
“Practically from the beginning of being a federal agency, CB has believed that a highly competent workforce is the essential element of child welfare practice and the key to responding effectively to child and families in need” (Lynch Thomas, 2012). CB believes that building an effective and efficient workforce is as critical a goal for child welfare agencies as building an array of quality services and interventions. The implementation of evidence-based treatment services is dependent upon the effectiveness of the professionals at all levels of child welfare agencies providing support to vulnerable children, youth, and families.
CB believes that positive outcomes for vulnerable children, youth, and families are achieved when a competent, well-trained workforce that is able and motivated to achieve the agency’s goals and objectives is deployed. A causal relationship exists between capable child welfare agency workforce and positive case outcomes (ACF, 2006).
Children, youth, and families who come into contact with the child welfare systems deserve evidence-informed assistance from a committed and skilled child welfare workforce, supported by well-functioning, well-managed and high-performing child welfare agencies.
Achieving safety, permanency, and well-being for children requires that child welfare professionals be knowledgeable, skilled, and have access to necessary resources. Unfortunately, public, private, and tribal agencies are often faced with challenges that can compromise the health, competence, and effectiveness of their respective workforces. The Child and Family Services reviews have also shown that while many states are able to meet basic criteria for providing initial training to workers and supervisors before they begin work for the agency, only about half of the States provide sufficient ongoing training to ensure workers’ skills and practice knowledge are able to meet the complex needs of their clients (DHHS, 2011). “There is a national picture unfolding that makes it clear that even basic casework practice, such as assessing children and parents, involving them in case planning, and having consistent caseworker contact, needs significant improvement to provide excellent care in order to achieve permanency and protect the safety and wellbeing of children and families involved in the child welfare systems” (Lynch Thomas, 2012).
CB is engaged in ongoing efforts to respond to findings from the Child and Family Service Reviews (CFSR) and other monitoring reviews that show a need for more advanced and effective training. Through its child welfare training initiatives and other discretionary programs, CB promotes the development and dissemination of promising and proven approaches to child welfare workforce needs. CB expects that this will result in the delivery of more appropriate, responsive, and effective services to children and their families. This particular initiative focuses on building the capacity of the workforce to improve the healthy, positive, and productive functioning of children and youth into adulthood.
The April 2012 information memorandum, Promoting Social and Emotional Well-Being for Children and Youth Receiving Child Welfare Services (http:// www.acf.hhs.gov/ sites/ default/ files/ cb/ im1204.pdf) lays out essential elements of an approach. Child welfare systems of which the workforce is the heart, should use screening and assessment tools that are valid, reliable, and normed to the general population to identify the needs and strengths of children and families. The child welfare workforce is the key ingredient in ensuring that appropriate evidence-based interventions are used to address problems, reduce risks, and build strengths. The workforce must be trained and equipped to use ongoing monitoring to assess whether interventions are working and to use data to fine tune the array of services available to the population. The purpose of this funding is to build curriculum on evidence-based treatment services to improve decision making skills for case managers, clinical skills on a particular evidence-based practice for treatment professionals, and to increase the macro-level policy skills for agency administrators who make decisions about the service array needed to address the needs of their child welfare population. This funding should result in a coherent and unified approach to learning across the career ladder.
Child Welfare Training Initiatives under Title IV-B of the Social Security Act
Legislative authority for the initiative described in this FOA comes from Title IV-B, Subpart I – Child Welfare Services of the Social Security Act (the Act). Under Section 426 (a)(1)(C) of the Act, federal grants are available to public or non-profit institutions of higher learning for special training projects and traineeships in the field of child welfare.
In an effort to support the recruitment and retention of qualified staff in child welfare, CB has funded professional education traineeships for many years. In the late 1970s, CB defined the scope of the Section 426 Title IV-B training grants as inclusive of three complementary purposes: the development of child welfare trainers, educators and curricula; the provision of financial support for short term training of public and private agency staff working in child welfare; and, the coverage of educational costs of students in their final years of college or graduate school” (Lynch Thomas, 2012). Traineeships are awarded to institutions of higher education to administer stipends to individual students who commit to pursuing either a BSW or MSW degree in social work and to serving in a child welfare agency upon graduation. In recent years, approximately 40 States have partnered with approximately 80 schools of social work to support the education and training of child welfare staff (Lynch Thomas, 2012).
In 2003, CB also funded eight, 5-year projects to demonstrate successful recruitment and retention strategies. This group of projects has demonstrated promising strategies for the selection, hiring, and retention of qualified child welfare staff. (Previous Recruitment and Retention grantees and links to their websites are listed in Appendix A. Additional information on Child Welfare Training projects is available at http:// www.acf.hhs.gov/ programs/ cb/ programs_fund/ discretionary/ cw_training.htm.) In 2005, ACF sponsored a Child Welfare Workforce Development and Workplace Enhancement Institute that brought federal experts, public and private agencies, universities, and other child-welfare serving agencies together to share best practices on recruiting and retaining a stable and highly skilled child welfare workforce.
In 2008, as a result of knowledge developed and lessons learned through the Retention and Recruitment grants, CB funded the first National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) to build the capacity of the nation’s child welfare workforce through activities that focused on supporting the development of skilled child welfare leaders in public and tribal child welfare systems and in private agencies contracted by the State to provide case management services traditionally provided by public child welfare. CB invested in NCWWI because of a belief that developing leaders at every level of the workforce, whether student, supervisor, middle manager, or agency director is an important effort if the child welfare workforce is to be transformed. NCWWI articulates their vision (NCCWI, 2012) for a child welfare workforce that is:
- Strengthened by professional education and leadership development;
- Supported by organizational practices that mirror systems of care principles;
- Led by middle managers and supervisors who engage in designing and delivering effective services; and
- Skilled at delivering promising practices that improve outcomes for children and families.
To promote effective child welfare practice and leadership development, NCWWI undertook a number of activities, including but not limited to developing and delivering leadership training for mid level managers and supervisors, administering child welfare professional education traineeship programs, advancing knowledge through collaboration and evaluation, and identifying and strategically disseminating effective and promising workforce practices.
NCWWI initiated 12 traineeship projects in 2008. NCWWI was responsible for administering and evaluating these professional education stipend programs throughout the five years of the project. The intent of the traineeships is to increase the knowledge and skills of individual stipend recipients, especially related to leadership development, address the workforce challenges of local child welfare systems, and build the capacity of college and university social work programs to prepare students for positive, culturally competent and productive careers in child welfare.
Additionally, in 2008, CB separately funded five Comprehensive Workforce Projects whose purpose was to build the capacity of the child welfare workforce through targeted workforce development interventions and traineeships that build on promising workforce practices. These cooperative agreements have provided universities and agencies the opportunity to partner and focus on assessments and interventions to improve agency culture and climate.
In 2013, CB is releasing two separate FOAs aimed at addressing workforce capacity. The National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (HHS-2013-ACF-ACYF-CT-0596) will be a national center of excellence to address workforce development and leadership capacity building, and organizational effectiveness. The Workforce Institute will play a national leadership role in a number of broad areas: building evidence of best practices in workforce development, providing leadership training across the career spectrum, supporting organizational interventions that improve the culture and climate in child welfare agencies, and demonstrating how the academic community can effectively partner with local child welfare agencies.
This FOA for The National Center for Child Welfare Curriculum Development on Evidence-Based Treatment Services is clearly within the scope of the intent of Title IV-B of the Social Security Act as this funding will advance the development of effective curricula and the provision of financial support for short-term training of public and private agency staff. The funding will be used to build and disseminate evidence of how to best equip the child welfare workforce to ensure the well-being of children and family through the use of trauma-informed and evidence-based practices.
The Need for the Child Welfare Workforce to Better Understand the Behavioral and Mental Health Needs of Children in Foster Care
Research shows that children in foster care have significantly higher rates of acute and chronic medical problems, developmental delays, educational disorders, and behavioral health problems than other children of similar backgrounds (McCarthy, 2002). Relevant findings include:
- Eighty percent of children in foster care have at least one chronic medical condition, 25 percent have three or more chronic problems, and an estimated 30 to 70 percent of children in foster care have severe emotional problems. (Simms & Halfron, 1998; Halfron, Mendonca, & Berkowitz, 1995; Silver, DiLorenzo, Zukoski, Ross, Amster, & Schlegel, 1999).
- Approximately one third score in the clinical range for behavior problems on the Child Behavior Checklist (NSCAW, 2006).
- By the time they are 17 years-old, 62 percent of youth in foster care will exhibit both the symptoms of a mental health disorder and the symptoms of trauma (Griffin, McClelland, Holzberg, Stolbach, Maj & Kisiel, 2012).
- Children in foster care are more likely to have a mental health diagnosis than other children. In a study of foster youth between the ages of 14 and 17 (White, Havalchak, Jackson, O’Brien & Pecora (2007), 63 percent met the criteria for at least one mental health diagnosis at some point in their lives. The most common diagnoses were Oppositional Defiant Disorder/Conduct Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder/Major Depressive Episode, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
Left unaddressed, these unmet needs are likely to derail normal development, hinder healthy functioning, and impede the achievement of permanency. CB also believes that childhood trauma and compromised well-being often result in problems that extend into adulthood, affecting their ability to function successfully.
The child welfare workforce must understand these special needs and be equipped to address them through a variety of strategies. Currently, there is no national curriculum whose target audience is working child welfare professionals and that is designed to assist the workforce to understand these complex needs of children and families involved in the public child welfare system. This funding and the project it supports attempts to fill that gap.
Child Welfare Training and Technical Assistance Network
CB provides training and technical assistance (T/TA) resources through its grants, contracts and cooperative agreements. CB-supported T/TA providers include the National Child Welfare Resource Centers (NRCs) that work together to assist States, tribes, localities and courts to improve public child welfare systems. The purpose of these providers is to build the capacity of State and tribal child welfare agencies and family and juvenile courts through the provision of training, technical assistance, research, and consultation on the full array of federal requirements administered by CB.
CB employs several monitoring tools to ensure conformity with federal child welfare requirements to help States achieve greater safety, permanency and well-being for children. While a major function of the CB-supported T/TA is to prepare States for child welfare monitoring and to help them apply the knowledge gained from these reviews, the ultimate purpose of T/TA is to improve child welfare systems and to support States and tribes in achieving sustainable, systemic change that yields better outcomes for children, youth and families.
CB’s T/TA providers hold expertise in multiple aspects of child welfare practice, and they are expected to provide resources and assistance that will support and facilitate positive change, and in some cases comprehensive cross-system reforms that will build State or tribal capacity to deliver quality child welfare services and result in more effective and promising practice. CB and its providers utilize a variety of strategies to deliver T/TA to States and tribes.
In order to meet the requirements of this FOA, The Center will perform activities that complement the services of other CB-supported T/TA providers. The Center will partner closely with other CB-funded workforce development initiatives and with Child Welfare Information Gateway (CWIG), a national clearinghouse that connects child welfare and other professionals to resources, information, and online tools that cover a wide range of topics related to child welfare, child abuse and neglect, and adoption (http:// www.childwelfare.gov). CWIG supports CB and provides numerous resources, including product development; dissemination/outreach via web, print, and electronic formats; websites and databases; and other online learning tools for improving child welfare practice.
Tips for Preparing a Competitive Application
This national project is expected to possess relevant expertise in child welfare workforce issues and professional leadership training. In addition, this project must have the necessary knowledge and expertise to provide culturally informed and responsive training to child welfare professionals that work in State, county, and tribal systems serving diverse and overrepresented groups of children and families. CB encourages partnerships between institutions to secure this expertise if necessary.
It is essential that applicants read the entire announcement package carefully before preparing an application and include all of the required application forms and attachments. The application must reflect a thorough understanding of and support the purpose and objectives of the applicable legislation. Reviewers expect applicants to understand the goals of the legislation and CB's interest in each topic and to address and follow all of the evaluation criteria in ways that demonstrate this understanding. Applications that do not clearly address the evaluation criteria or program requirements generally receive very low scores and are rarely funded.
CB's website (http:// www.acf.hhs.gov/ programs/ cb) provides a wide range of information and links to other relevant websites. Before preparing an application, applicants can learn more about CB's mission and programs by exploring the website.
The purpose of this national project is to build the capacity of the child welfare workforce in public child welfare agencies and their partner organizations to identify, assess, and treat trauma experienced by children and youth to improve their ability to cope with normal challenges successfully. The project will rely on the recent developments in trauma-informed, evidence-based practice literature to develop, implement, and evaluate curriculum in child welfare agency settings that will:
- Support the child welfare workforce to better understand social and emotional needs of children and families involved in the child welfare system;
- Support the child welfare workforce to better screen and assess for the social and emotional needs of children and families;
- Support the child welfare workforce to understand the effective interventions and active ingredients of those interventions and how to ensure children and families receive those interventions;
- Increase exposure to active ingredients and Evidence-Based Practices for agency staff through enhanced curriculum and tools;
- Provide professional development opportunities for agency staff by developing, delivering, and evaluating course offerings, continuing education, and certificate programs aimed at addressing the shortage of child welfare practitioners prepared to deliver evidence based child and family treatment services;
- Provide curriculum aimed at assisting case managers to make excellent decisions about how to refer and to evaluate the effectiveness of the services provided to the children and families in their care;
- Enhance the capacity of mental health services to effectively use a particular parent-child evidence-based treatment program;
- Develop decision making tools for agency leadership that might assist them in assessing their current mental health service array. These tools will provide direction about the cost and effectiveness of the mental health services in their current service array, and assist the administrator in evaluating if the current treatment services are achieving intended outcomes, and provide leadership with guidance on best practice in selecting and implementing evidence- based treatment services.
- Assist child welfare and related systems to understand the benefits of evidence-based assessment and treatment, and how these evidence-based, trauma-informed services can improve outcomes for children and families, as well as contribute to ending/disrupting the cycle of inter-generational child maltreatment.
The Center will address the current research findings that suggest there is a shortage of social workers prepared to both deliver and appropriately refer children and families to evidence-based trauma-informed treatment. The Center will develop, implement, and evaluate three model curriculums aimed at improving the effectiveness of child welfare practitioners to provide evidence-based mental health treatment services to children in families. One curriculum will be aimed at child welfare case managers working in public child welfare who make decision about what services are most appropriate given the social and emotional needs of particular family. Another curriculum will be aimed at the mental health service providers to enhance their application of a particular parent-child evidence based treatment program with the child welfare population. And finally, a model curriculum will be developed and implemented with state or county agency leadership aimed at helping them make important decisions about what evidence-based mental health treatment services to offer and how to practically measure their effectiveness in meeting child and family well-being outcomes. This three-tiered approach (decision making skills for case managers, clinical skills for treatment professionals, and macro-level policy skills for agency administrators) will result in a coherent and unified approach to learning across the career ladder.
Target Participants and Consumers
The Center will increase knowledge and build the skills of administrators, managers, supervisors, and staff in public child welfare agencies as well as mental health professionals serving child and families involved in the child welfare system and partnering organizations. The major categories of activity described in this announcement target two types of “audiences”:
- Participants in training, professional development offerings, and technical assistance; and
- Users or consumers of products and tools.
At a minimum, The Center must target state child welfare agency directors and program managers, case managers and mental health providers serving children; but the grantee may target additional participants including: training academy directors, county and local administrators, private agency directors, mental health partners serving the child welfare population, partners from the courts, tribal agency leadership, and other key stakeholders.
Products and tools developed under this cooperative agreement may be intended for general use by a broad child welfare audience or they may be more narrowly targeted to address the specific needs of particular users. Products must be thoughtfully designed and tailored, when necessary, to ensure that they are relevant and meet the needs of professionals based on their roles and responsibilities.
The grantee’s target participants and consumers must align with the needs it has identified and the proposed training and product development activities. After award of the cooperative agreement, the grantee will review its target participants and consumers with CB and its partners and potentially refine these targets, if necessary.
The Center must partner closely with CB throughout the funding period to meet the goals of this program announcement. As a participant in a cooperative agreement, the grantee can expect to closely collaborate with CB in the review of its proposed activities. In some cases, they will revise and jointly develop key project strategies. CB must approve project plans and activities prior to implementation.
Responsibility for supporting the child welfare workforce to understand the social and emotional needs of children and families and to implement trauma-informed, evidence-based practice is not the sole role of any single project or entity. In addition to its partnership with CB, the grantee will be responsible for collaborating with other projects, including but not limited to, National Child Welfare Resource Centers, the Child Welfare Information Gateway, and other CB-funded and other Federal interagency projects aimed at increasing the capacity of the workforce to meet the needs of children and families.
Outreach and Engagement
In order to successfully reach its target audiences and achieve its goals for participation and use of The Center’s tools and resources, the grantee must have clear and deliberate strategies for outreach and engagement. The Center must engage its intended consumers in the development and refinement of its training activities and products. The project will seek feedback from members of its target audience(s) throughout the project period to better understand workforce development needs, inform project activities, review curricula and product-related content, and proposed dissemination strategies.
The Center will identify, review, collect, organize, and manage relevant and useful resources and products on social and emotional well-being, and decision-making tools on evidence-based treatment services, making them easily accessible to its target audiences and the public. The grantee will work closely with CB and identified partners to determine how best to provide access to a repository of resources and information that is easily navigable (and potentially searchable) and meets consumers’ needs. This activity must not duplicate, but may build upon previous and existing CB-supported efforts in this area. The grantee will be guided by the content of trauma-informed curriculum and practical resources on implementing evidence-based treatment services in child welfare settings that ensure the well-being of children and families that have been disseminated by CB, but its search will draw on publications and products from a much broader base of resources from child welfare and other fields. Resources may include, but are not limited to, articles, reports, papers, briefs, tools, curricula, and instruments from a wide variety of trauma-informed approaches that are/may be relevant to practice in child welfare. Gaps in existing training curricula and resources will be identified, reported to CB and its partners, and used to inform the project’s planned activities.
The primary purpose of The Center is to support the child welfare workforce to better understand and respond to the social and emotional needs of children and families involved in the child welfare system and to build the competencies and skills of child welfare practitioners to choose and evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, to support mental practitioners implementing evidence-based treatment services and to assist agency leaders charged with guiding decision making around their evidence-based treatment service array.
The overall goal is to improve child welfare services and achieve better well-being outcomes for children, youth, and families. Drawing on the grantees own knowledge, experience, and expertise, and its review of literature and resources, consumer feedback, and collaboration with other partners of CB, the grantee will design and implement a training plan. The training plan must be designed to build individual competencies of specific members of the child welfare workforce and to develop key skills that are aligned with those activities that are necessary for individuals to perform critical tasks that demonstrate a greater understanding of social and emotional well-being of children and families and the evidence-based treatment services that might best serve the identified needs. General overviews and frameworks describing trauma and evidence-based treatment processes and systems in “broad strokes” may be helpful, but they will not be sufficient to meet the training requirement of this award. Training will be expected to generate measurable gains in participants’ knowledge and skills that can be expected to improve performance in key aspect of child welfare practice. The goal of any training will be to improve specific child and family well-being outcomes.
At a minimum, the training plan will include the development of three unique curriculums over the project period. One curriculum will be aimed at child welfare case managers working in public child welfare, who make decisions about what services are most appropriate given the social and emotional needs of particular family. One curriculum will be aimed at mental health service providers to enhance their application of a particular parent-child evidence-based treatment program with the child welfare population. And finally, a model curriculum will be developed and implemented with state or county agency leadership aimed at helping them make important decisions about what evidence-based mental health treatment services to offer and how to practically measure their effectiveness in meeting child and family well-being outcomes.
Group-based Learning Program
After the curriculum is developed, the grantee will design and conduct a group-based learning program for individuals or teams representing title IV-E child welfare agencies. The Center will lead cohorts of participants from multiple jurisdictions through a program that builds individual capacity and facilitates the application of what has been learned to the “real world” practice of participants’ agencies. The program design must include in-person as well as distance learning components, and the grantee’s program will integrate training, coaching, and peer learning in a manner that efficiently deploys resources and effectively increases knowledge, develops skills, and changes attitudes and behavior.
The group-based learning program must be informed by theory and best practices in adult education and training. CB expects the program to complement its training with individualized coaching for participants and practice with concrete tools. The program must build on promising and evidence-supported, group-based learning models that have been previously evaluated. The Center will finalize its plan for group-based learning with CB and its partners. Learning cohorts must begin no later than October 1, 2014, and The Center must be capable of conducting multiple cohorts concurrently.
Distance Learning - Web Accessible Training Modules
The Center may choose to develop curricula and design a series of training sessions that can be easily accessed online and serve the needs of remote participants. The design of these training modules will be informed by theory and best practices in adult education and training, knowledge transfer, and distance learning, as well as the best available research evidence. Modules may build upon one another, taking a participant through a series of successive lessons and activities, and/or modules may be independent training sessions that a user can access without needing to follow any particular sequence. Certificates or records of successful completion should be contingent upon demonstrated understanding and application of the training content. Training module access and use must be free to users, and modules must be easily transferred to the federal government or another entity identified by CB by the end of the project period.
Tailored Technical Assistance
In some instances, The Center may determine that in order to achieve the goals of this FOA it is necessary to provide time-limited, tailored technical assistance to the jurisdictions of some of its group-based learning program participants. Tailored technical assistance may include one or more site visits to assist the jurisdiction with assessment, work planning, coaching, and consultation. Proposed technical assistance must be considered in consultation with CB, coordinated with other T/TA service providers, and approved by the Federal Project Officer for the project prior to delivery.
Products and Tools
Based on its knowledge of needs, review of related resources, collaboration, and input from target consumers, the grantee will develop products that provide targeted users with practical information and tools. CB encourages creative product designs that respond to the needs, characteristics, and behavior patterns of the project’s target consumers to maximize the potential for their use. Products may include, but are not limited to: information briefs, tools, guides, and/or presentations.
During the course of its project, The Center may have opportunities to consult and/or collaborate with State and tribal child welfare systems, other projects, and various national, regional, and community stakeholders to develop additional products.
NOTE: See Section IV.2, Dissemination, for additional instructions for applicants.
The Center will disseminate strategically to its target audiences. Consistent with requirements that have been detailed earlier in this section of this FOA, the grantee’s plans for outreach and engagement, knowledge management, distance learning, group-based learning, and product development must be guided by a coherent dissemination plan that is based on careful study of the target participants and consumers and a thorough understanding of their needs, characteristics, behaviors, and contexts.
CB expects for The Center to carefully consider opportunities to use new technologies when making decisions about project activities, curricula and product design, and dissemination strategies. In addition to making training modules and other products electronically accessible, the grantee will be encouraged to take full advantage of innovations (e.g, websites, social networking, workspace sharing, livecasting, presentation sharing, mobile applications, etc.) that use web- and mobile-based technologies when these approaches are feasible, practical, and appropriate and when they are likely to increase access for target audiences and achieve project objectives.
NOTE: See Section IV.2, Evaluation, for additional instructions for applicants.
Participation in National Evaluation Activities
Because The Center will perform activities under this cooperative agreement that will complement other projects and technical assistance, the project will participate fully in any relevant national evaluation of CB-supported workforce development efforts, training, and/or technical assistance. This may include participation as a member of a focus group, survey or interview respondent, and/or regular data entry into an automated data collection system.
Evaluation of the National Center for Child Welfare Curriculum Development
The Center will conduct a rigorous, practical, and feasible program evaluation that will document and support the achievement of the purposes of this FOA within the time and resource constraints of the project. The evaluation design will answer key questions about project performance and will evaluate improvement of individual competencies of specific members of the child welfare workforce. The evaluation will assess if the workforce has developed key skills that are necessary for individuals to perform critical tasks that demonstrate a greater understanding of social and emotional wellbeing of children and families and the evidence based treatment services that might best serve the identified needs. The grantee’s evaluation must be both efficient and able to provide timely and useful information. Program evaluation activities must:
- Be integrated into the project’s planning, decision making, and reporting to CB throughout the project period;
- Answer key process and outcome questions related to satisfaction, accessibility, usability, participation, reach, use, and acquisition of competencies and skills;
- Support The Center’s ability to clearly describe and specify key aspects of a replicable group-based program model, monitor adherence to the model during program delivery, and assess the model’s ability to affect proximal learning and behavior-related outcomes;
- Calculate the costs of its knowledge management, distance learning, group-based learning, product development, and dissemination activities; and
- Inform the project of any recommendations for adjustment of the models or the delivery of training during the implementation phase of the project.
The Center will set clear and measurable objectives and outcomes for its knowledge management, distance learning, group-based learning, and product dissemination activities. Guided by its logic model, the successful applicant will design an evaluation plan, choose methods, develop instruments, collect data, and perform analyses that will help the project determine the degree to which key objectives and intended outcomes are achieved. While CB has identified several domains for evaluation, the design and content of the grantee’s planned activities may warrant the inclusion of additional outcomes.
The grantee may choose to partner with an internal or external evaluator for its evaluation. External evaluators from different types of organizations may be suited to this project, including university professors or university-based teams, independent consultants, or research/consulting firms. The evaluators, defined as an individual, team, or an organization such as a university or evaluation contractor, must have the staff qualifications and organizational capacity to implement a rigorous evaluation of a project of this type within the project period.
Helpful information on evaluation for program managers may be found in a document titled Program Manager's Guide to Evaluation, which can be accessed at: http:// www.acf.hhs.gov/ programs/ opre/ other_resrch/ pm_guide_eval/ index.html.
The grantee will describe its evaluation activities and findings as a component of its routine project reporting and submit a final evaluation report at the conclusion of the project.
Immediately upon award of the cooperative agreement, the grantee will begin its 5-year project by meeting with CB and engaging in an intensive, 120-day start-up period to build partnerships, refine project plans, and kick-off activities. During the first 16 weeks of the project, the project leadership will:
- Establish the collaborative partnerships and processes necessary to guide and support successful project completion;
- Establish project infrastructure and organization;
- Revisit and further refine project objectives and set outcomes targets;
- Develop a framework that will guide the development of the training and tool development;
- Finalize plans and processes for outreach, knowledge management, and dissemination;
- Revisit and further specify the target participants and consumers;
- Ensure that the proposed group-based program model, web accessible training modules, and tools are likely to achieve the project objectives and outcomes;
- Ensure the appropriateness of the proposed group-based program model, web accessible training modules, and tools for the targeted participants and users;
- Review and revise, if necessary, work plan time tables and milestones; and
- Review, refine, and finalize plans for evaluation in consultation with CB.
Within 120 days of award, The Center must be fully operational, and an updated work plan (addressing each of the project requirements, including any agreed upon and/or proposed revisions based on the start-up activities described above) must be submitted to CB for review and approval. In addition, the following milestones must be included in the project work plan.
- Collaboration activities must be underway within 90 days;
- Knowledge management activities must have begun within 120 days;
- Group-based learning cohorts must begin no later than October 1, 2014; and
- Data collection for the project evaluation must coincide with service delivery (e.g., delivery of the project’s first training sessions) and dissemination activities (e.g., announcement and release/posting of the first products for public use).
CB shall maintain its irrevocable right to reproduce all curricula, online training modules, products, and tools developed under this cooperative agreement and to make these available to the targeted users for the benefit of the public. Prior to or within 90 days of the end of the project period, the grantee must transfer all of these resources to CB or its designee.
Use of Funds
The grantee must adhere to the Funding Restrictions as noted in Section IV.5, Funding Restrictions.
Additional Project Requirements
The applicant's signature on the application constitutes its assurance that it will comply with the requirements stated in this FOA and in Section IV.2, Additional Assurances and Certifications. See Section IV.2. The Project Description, Approach, for additional instructions for the applicants.
Administration for Children and Families. (2006). Summary of the Results of the 2001–2004 Child and Family Services Reviews. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Administration for Children, Youth and Families (2012). Integrating Safety, Permanency, and Well-Being for Children and Families in Child Welfare: A Summary of Administration on Children, Youth, and Families Projects in Fiscal Year 2012.
White, CR; Havalchak, A; Jackson, L; OBrien, K; & Pecora, PJ. (2007). Mental Health, Ethnicity, Sexuality, and Spirituality Among Youth in Foster Care: Findings from The Casey Field Office Mental Health Study. Casey Family Programs.
Halfon, N., Mendonca, A., and Berkowitz, G. (1995). Health Status of Children in Foster Care. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 149(4):386-392.
Lynch Thomas, Miranda (2012). One Hundred Years of Children’s Bureau Support to the Child Welfare Workforce. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 6:4, 357-375.
McCarthy, J. (2002). Meeting the Health Care Needs of Children in the Foster Care System, Georgetown University Child Development Center. Retrieved from: http:// gucchd.georgetown.edu/ products/ FCSummary.pdf.
Mitchell, L., Walters, R., Lynch Thomas, M., Denniston, J., McIntosh, H., Brodowski, M. (2012). The Children’s Bureau’s Vision for the Future of Child Welfare. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 6(4), 550-567.
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Silver, J., DiLorenzo, P., Zukoski, M., Ross, P.E., Amster, B.J., Schlegel, D. (1999). "Starting Young: Improving the Health and Developmental Outcomes of Infants and Toddlers in the Child Welfare System." Child Welfare 78:148-165.
Simms, M.D., and Halfon, N. (1998). "The Health Care Needs of Children in Foster Care: A Research Agenda." Child Welfare 73:505-524.
The National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) is a longitudinal study required by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 overseen by ACF. It is a key source of information about the social and emotional well-being of children who have experienced maltreatment, including information on rates of psychotropic medication use.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau (2011). Federal Child and Family Services Reviews Aggregate Report, Round 2, Fiscal Years 2007-2010. Retrieved from http:// www.acf.hhs.gov/ programs/ cb/ cwmonitoring/ results/ fcfsr_report.pdf