E-Notes, the monthly newsletter from the National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment at AdoptUSKids.
This issue of E-Notes provides information on an upcoming NRCDR webinar, shares strategies used by Washington state to recruit more deaf and hard-of-hearing families, announces a new publication providing tips on using the Diligent Recruitment Navigator, and summarizes information about new ICWA guidelines.
Register now! NRCDR Webinar: Improving Child Welfare Outcomes through Family Engagement: Using Customer Service Concepts to Recruit and Develop Resource Families.
This webinar will address how customer service concepts can be applied to child welfare systems to strengthen efforts to recruit and develop resource families to meet the needs of children and youth in care. Presenters will discuss the benefits of engaging and supporting different groups of key stakeholders ("customers"), including child welfare staff and prospective and current foster, adoptive, and kinship families. The webinar will highlight a real example from Mississippi, a state child welfare system that is working to establish an infrastructure for incorporating customer service principles in their system, including the development and implementation of a customer service training curriculum. The webinar will also highlight strategies and lessons learned from tribal child welfare systems that have integrated customer service concepts into efforts to develop staff capacity and implement team decision-making, improve transparency and information sharing, and better community relationships. The webinar will also share tools and resources that can support your child welfare system in strengthening engagement of resource families through high-quality customer service.
Recruiting in the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Community in Washington State
Washington State's Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) and Department of Social and Health Services Children's Administration have collaborated to recruit more deaf foster families, and the child welfare system in Washington is now reaching a previously untapped pool of potential resource families.
Some of the key steps taken by Washington state in implementing this new targeted recruitment effort, include:
Children’s Administration and ODHH partnering to develop targeted messages about deaf children in foster care, including data on the number of deaf children in foster care and information about the recruitment and licensing process for deaf prospective parents.
Finding appropriate partners and allies in communities—most commonly the Regional Service Centers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, schools for the deaf, libraries, and community colleges providing instruction in American Sign Language (ASL)—to provide locations for hosting recruitment and orientation sessions for the deaf community.
Adding photos to recruitment materials showing a mom signing to a child.
Establishing response systems in the child welfare agency that allows deaf and hard of hearing prospective parents to contact the agency and get the information and support they need.
Having the Children’s Administration contract directly with ASL interpreters, with the interpreters going along with staff for home studies for the licensing process.
Learn more at the NRCDR website, including key steps taken by Washington state and tips for other child welfare systems for recruiting in the deaf community.
The NRCDR's Diligent Recruitment Navigator is a customizable tool that helps guide states, counties, tribes, and territories through their own process of developing a comprehensive, multi-faceted diligent recruitment program, providing suggested discussion questions and people to include in the process of developing a diligent recruitment program. Many child welfare systems used the Diligent Recruitment Navigator to develop their most recent Child and Family Services Plan (CFSP). The NRCDR developed this new publication to suggest additional ways that the Diligent Recruitment Navigator can continue to be a useful tool for child welfare systems after they submitted their 2015–2019 CFSP. For example, the publication provides details about how the Diligent Recruitment Navigator can be used, such as:
as an assessment tool, to provide a framework for tracking progress in implementing your diligent recruitment plan or program design; and
to provide structure for soliciting feedback from stakeholders, as a tool to support review and interpretation of data.
The "Ideas from the Field" section of the publication provides examples of how a state and a tribe used the Diligent Recruitment Navigator to support their work.
News and Announcements
New Guidelines for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings
In February 2015, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) published updated Guidelines for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings (PDF – 245 KB) that are immediately effective and supersede and replace the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) guidelines published in 1979. The updated BIA guidelines promote compliance with ICWA's stated goals and provisions by providing a framework for state courts and child welfare agencies to follow, as well as best practices for ICWA compliance. The updated guidelines broaden the audience of the guidelines to include both state courts and any agency or other party seeking placement of an Indian child.
The guidelines identify procedures to address circumstances in which a parent desires anonymity in a voluntary proceeding, clarifying that a parent's desire for anonymity does not override the responsibility to comply with ICWA. The guidelines provide definitions of key terms; for example, the guidelines define "active efforts," a term that has been inconsistently interpreted. The guidelines expand significantly on how to comply with ICWA’s active efforts requirement, providing specific examples of active efforts, as well as requirements around the timing, duration, and documentation of active efforts. The guidelines also address the process for the emergency removal of an Indian child, as well as placement preferences that apply to pre-adoptive, adoptive, or foster care placement of an Indian child.
Recruiting Families for Native Children: Strengthening Partnerships for Success
State child welfare systems may find the NRCDR's recent publication, Recruiting Families for Native Children: Strengthening Partnerships for Success (PDF – 115 KB), to be helpful as you develop strategies for recruiting families that align with ICWA's placement preferences for Native children. This resource may also assist state systems in strengthening partnerships with tribes, which will support active efforts to maintain and reunite Native children with their families or tribal communities. While the NRCDR developed this publication with the primary goal of building state child welfare systems’ capacity to recruit, develop, and support families for Native American children in foster care, tribes may also find ideas and strategies that are useful to extract and use in your own work. Tribes may also want to share this publication with state and county child welfare agencies as a tool that could help provide a foundation for some discussions about ways to work together.
The NRCDR is available to provide off-site support or on-site capacity building technical assistance to support states and tribes in this important work.