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June 16th

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Texas is a rapidly growing state with abundant opportunities for its residents. Yet families face the same struggles as families everywhere: the stressors of poverty, drug addiction, isolation, and other risk factors that can lead to the abuse of children, the most vulnerable members of our households and our communities. Last year in Texas there were over 100,000 children in confirmed investigations of child maltreatment and over 17,000 children removed from their homes.

For more than 135 years, Upbring has served children, families and communities in need, providing excellence in program delivery and evolving alongside the needs of those we serve.

In 2015, we will focus on our new mission: to break the cycle of child abuse by empowering children, families and communities. Our attention and resources will be focused on developing a New Continuum Framework designed specifically to drive transformative change in breaking the cycle of child abuse through innovative programs, new partnerships, and an expanding network of community services – but we can’t do this alone and need your help.

Funded Call for White Papers

Congratulations to the following research teams whose White Paper proposals have been selected for funding in 2015! Also, please subscribe to our email list to receive updates on future white papers and research efforts.

Completed White Papers

 

Strong Communities

 

“How can Strong Communities transform community norms and structures to promote children’s safety and well-being?”

by Jill D. McLeigh, Ph.D.; Gary B. Melton, Ph.D.; Robin Kimbrough-Melton, J.D.; Nichole Wallace, M.D.

Upbring is proud to release its first white paper in a series that will share ideas from top child abuse researchers around the country on how to protect Texas children. This paper discusses the success of Strong Communities for Children, a child abuse prevention program implemented in Greenville County, SC, and how it can be replicated in other communities. What sets Strong Communities for Children apart from other programs is that it relies on volunteer-run activities that seek to strengthen community bonds so that all families feel more supported, and therefore less likely to neglect or abuse their children.

In South Carolina over a period of three years, the service area saw a marked decrease in founded reports of child abuse and neglect as well as decreases in emergency room visits and hospitalizations for injuries for children under four. Parents also reported feeling less stressed, more supported, and a greater sense of collective efficacy. This white paper series is part of Upbring’s renewed focus on breaking the cycle of child abuse through excellence in services, advocacy, and thought leadership. Together with its strategic partners, Upbring is developing a continuum of services that will build protective factors in health, education, safety, life skills and vocation for Texas children.

Read Complete Paper

Non-Traditional Trauma Therapies

 

“Non-traditional trauma therapies for youth: a review and synthesis”

by Brian Allen, Psy.D.; Natalie A. Hoskowitz, M.A.

Upbring is proud to release its second white paper in a series that share ideas from top child abuse researchers around the country on how to protect Texas children.

This paper is a review of what scientific evidence exists for various nontraditional trauma therapies for youth, such as equine-assisted therapy or art therapy.

Many studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of therapies such as Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR), equine-assisted psychotherapy, canine-assisted psychotherapy, music therapy, art therapy, dance therapy, and adventure therapy. However not all of these were conducted using best practices in randomized controlled trials, and not all have been tested on trauma-exposed youth.

This important review of evidence will help practitioners and policymakers decide where to allocate resources to best serve trauma-exposed children and children in the child welfare system.

This white paper series is part of Upbring’s renewed focus on breaking the cycle of child abuse through excellence in services, advocacy, and thought leadership. Together with its strategic partners, Upbring is developing a continuum of services that will build protective factors in health, education, safety, life skills and vocation for Texas children.

Read Complete Paper

Special Health Needs

 

Special health needs of children investigated for maltreatment:

An analysis from the second National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being

by Rebecca Orsi, Ph.D.; Caroline Kistin, M.D., M.Sc.; Zachary Timpe, M.S.

  • Upbring is proud to release its third white paper in a series that share ideas from top child abuse researchers around the country on how to protect Texas children.
  • This paper analyzes the results of a national survey of children in the child welfare system to determine if certain physical or behavioral health needs are more prevalent among children than others, and if these health needs are statistically correlated with children being put in out-of-home placements.
  • The authors find that behavioral needs like ADHD are common, and are also predictive of out-of-home placement. Other behavioral needs include emotional developmental delay, mental retardation or development delay, and emotion problems such as depression or anxiety.
  • Implications for child welfare agencies include re-examining the decision making processes that lead to out-of-home placement for these children; ensuring the availability of behavioral health services for system-involved children; and providing supports for foster parents whose children exhibit behavioral needs. Upbring takes these recommendations seriously by providing extra supports to our families caring for children with special health needs, such as training and on-staff nursing experts.
  • This white paper series is part of Upbring’s renewed focus on breaking the cycle of child abuse through excellence in services, advocacy, and thought leadership. Together with its strategic partners, Upbring is developing a continuum of services that will build protective factors in health, education, safety, life skills and vocation for Texas children.

Read Complete Paper

A Developmental Theory Perspective on the Child Welfare System

 

A Developmental Theory Perspective on the Child Welfare System

by Rebecca Gomez, PhD, LCSW, MSW Program Director/Assistant Professor Worden School of Social Service, Our Lady of the Lake University; Tiffany Ryan, PhD, MSW Coordinator Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Project/Assistant Research Professor Northern Arizona Social Work Program

  • Research documents that youth exiting foster care often struggle to achieve adult competency (defined as the ability to adapt to environmental demands and capitalize on opportunities, and measured by outcomes such as employment status or stable housing). However, achieving adult competency requires life skills that need to be practiced throughout childhood and adolescence.
  • Child welfare policy should take into consideration a developmental theory perspective on how to help youth transition into healthy adults, as opposed to focusing solely on structural questions such as whether the child has physical shelter (creating foster homes, adoptive homes, group homes, residential facilities) or material support (life skills classes, housing assistance). Youth also need the opportunity to develop independent decision-making skills.
  • Life Course Theory is one such approach for understanding development among emerging adults in foster care. Life Course Theory explains that human development is shaped by four principles: historical context, timing of major life events, linked lives (relationships), and human agency (individual choice).
  • Providing youth with more opportunities to develop independent decision-making skills while in foster care would be beneficial. Supervised Independent Living is one example of a developmentally-conscious program that offers a trial independence period.

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Educational Resilience of Foster Youth

 

Structuring policies and practices to support educational resilience of foster youth

By: Monica Faulkner, PhD, LMSW; Beth Gerlach PhD, LCSW; Catherine LaBrenz.

Upbring is proud to release its fifth white paper in a series that share ideas from top child abuse researchers around the country on how to protect Texas children. This paper comes from our research partners at the Child and Family Research Institute at the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work.

Foster youth have poor educational outcomes compared to youth not in foster care due to frequent moves while in care and lack of caregiver stability. Drawing on resilience theory, this paper presents a conceptual framework for structuring policies and practices to promote educational resilience of foster youth. Practices and policies from states are highlighted as well as future directions.

This white paper series is part of Upbring’s renewed focus on breaking the cycle of child abuse through excellence in services, advocacy, and thought leadership. Together with its strategic partners, Upbring is developing a continuum of services that will build protective factors in education, health, safety, life skills and vocation for Texas children.

Read Complete Paper

Developmental Needs of Young Maltreated Children

 

Promising Practices to Address the Developmental Needs of Young Maltreated Children in Contact with the U.S. Child Welfare System

By: Mindi Moses, M.S.W., Michelle Johnson-Motoyama, Ph.D. (University of Kansas School of Social Welfare), & Patrick Shannon, Ph.D. (University of New Hampshire Department of Social Work)

Upbring is proud to release its sixth white paper in a series that share ideas from top child abuse researchers around the country on how to protect Texas children.

Previous research has shown that children between the ages of 0 and 3 years involved in the child welfare system are at increased risk for developmental delays, including delays in neurological, cognitive, early language, and behavioral development. Recent study results (NSCAW II) show that few eligible children (18%) are receiving referrals to early intervention programs, and referral rates are especially low for Hispanic children.

For this paper, the authors conducted a national survey of administrators to determine how states are working to meet the federal mandate to refer young children in substantiated child abuse cases to early intervention services. They discuss promising practices from each state, such as cross-system collaborations, special staffing, training initiatives, and data system and tracking solutions. They highlight the importance of information sharing, collaborative structures, and a focus on young children.

This white paper series is part of Upbring’s renewed focus on breaking the cycle of child abuse through excellence in services, advocacy, and thought leadership. Together with its strategic partners, Upbring is developing a continuum of services that will build protective factors in health, education, safety, life skills and vocation for Texas children.

Read Complete Paper

Intergenerational Transmission of Child Neglect

 

Intergenerational Transmission of Child Neglect

By: Dee Wilson, M.S.W.

Upbring is proud to release its seventh white paper in a series that share ideas from top child abuse researchers around the country on how to protect Texas children.

In this paper Dee Wilson, MSW, brings insight to the problem of the intergenerational transmission of child neglect, informed by decades of experience working with Casey Family Programs, the University of Washington School of Social Work, and Washington State’s Children Administration. Neglect is by far the most prevalent form of child maltreatment. For example, according to the Texas DFPS 2015 Data Book, the most common type of abuse was neglectful supervision in 78% of cases, followed by physical abuse (16%), sexual abuse (9%), physical neglect (7%), then medical neglect, failure to accept parental responsibility, emotional abuse, abandonment, sex trafficking, and human trafficking.

The author reviews recent findings from research on neglect, such as: neglect is more likely to be transmitted from one generation to the next than physical abuse; a history of physical abuse in childhood is more likely to lead to neglectful parenting than abusive parenting; experiencing multiple types of maltreatment in childhood greatly increases the risk of intergenerational transmission of neglect; social supports and positive early bonds can moderate the intergenerational transmission of neglect; and more. The author reviews the research underlying these findings and discusses possible hypotheses for their causal mechanisms.

This white paper series is part of Upbring’s renewed focus on breaking the cycle of child abuse through excellence in services, advocacy, and thought leadership. Together with its strategic partners, Upbring is developing a continuum of services that will build protective factors in health, education, safety, life skills and vocation for Texas children.

Read Complete Paper

Primary Care Medical Homes

 

The Need for Primary Care Medical Homes for Children in Foster Care

By: Karla A. Lawson, PhD, MPH, Director of The Dell Children’s Trauma and Injury Research Center; Amy Brandes, Licensed foster parent & Manager of Perinatal & NICU Nutrition for Seton Healthcare Family.

Upbring is proud to release its eighth white paper in a series that share ideas from top child abuse researchers around the country on how to protect Texas children.

Children and adolescents in foster care placement have a higher rate of medical issues prior to system entry, maintain increased risk within the system, and develop poor health outcomes after transition. It is imperative to determine a coordinated care model to deliver timely and appropriate physical and mental health care to these children.   The American Academy of Pediatrics, in their technical report on health care issues for children and adolescents in foster care, point to integrated models of care including both physical and mental health via a medical home model as a promising way to fulfill the health care needs of this vulnerable population.

This white paper series is part of Upbring’s renewed focus on breaking the cycle of child abuse through excellence in services, advocacy and thought leadership. Together with its strategic partners, Upbring is developing a continuum of services that will build protective factors in health, education, safety, life skills and vocation for Texas children.

Read Complete Paper

These teams of authors, representing research institutions from across the United States, submitted winning proposals to Upbring’s Call for White Papers issued earlier this year. Upbring is seeking evidence from Texas, and the rest of the world, on best practices for building protective factors for children in the child welfare system in the areas of health, education, safety, life skills and vocation. The original announcement can be viewed here.

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