Volume 16 | February 2017 

A Letter from Our Director
We presented the findings from the annual monitoring report of the B.H. consent decree in Chicago in January. Were you able to make it to the presentation? We had a wonderful audience for our yearly presentation, with engaging questions and a reminder that meaningful child welfare work extends from the caseworkers visiting homes, to the public and private agencies working to find permanent homes for all children, from the administrators at DCFS, and all the way to the people who manage and use the extensive data generated by all these efforts. 

We hope you will take time to read the most recent version of the B.H. report, available on our website. For those of you who requested a hard copy, rest assured that they are being printed and will arrive here soon. 

Don't have time to read the entire report, or want to get a sense of some key findings from it? This year, we prepared a research brief on the findings. You can find that on our website too

I wish we could present our findings to each and every one of you personally. Since we cannot, I hope you will accept my sincere thanks for the work you do. If you know a person who works to make the lives of children better, take a moment today to reach out and say thank you. There's no better time to let them know how much we appreciate the work they do. 

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 2016 Completed

The monitoring report of the B.H. consent decree is our annual report on the status of Illinois children taken into state care. It is CFRC's seminal publication, the result of the same decree that led to the founding of our center. Find the report on our website, along with a research brief that highlights five findings from the report.  Would you like a hard copy? Let us know, and we will mail one to you when they arrive! We would love to hear from you if you get a chance to look at the report. Do you have any questions? Do any findings surprise you? Send us an email with your thoughts!

Save the Date for the Third Annual CQI Conference

This year's annual conference on Continuous Quality Improvement will be held November 7 and 8, 2017, at the I Hotel in Champaign. Conference organizers have already begun planning, and more information will be posted on the conference website when available. We hope you will be able to join us for another exciting year discussing CQI and its role in social service organizations. Are you planning to come? Send us an email and tell us what you are hoping to learn at the conference this year. 

Illinois Simulation Training Evaluation

CFRC is conducting an evaluation of Illinois' Child Protective Service simulation training. The Center for State Policy and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Springfield is collaborating with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to add an innovative experiential component to the training of new DCFS investigators. The project supplements the classroom-based Foundations training with experiential training days in a Residential Simulation Laboratory and a Courtroom Simulation Laboratory. CFRC staff observed the simulation training and conducted interviews with key stakeholders and select participants. We will conduct a survey of past participants in the spring.  

Other Project Updates

Our evaluation projects  in Wisconsin and Oregon are keeping us very busy. For our evaluation of Oregon's implementation of Differential Response (DR), we completed our final interim report at the end of the calendar year. We are now in the last stages of the evaluation and working to finalize the results from the parent survey and interviews, as well as complete the cost analysis. Our final report is due June 30. 

For the Title IV-E Waiver Evaluation of Wisconsin's Post-Reunification Support (P. S.) Program, we are currently completing a report on our second round of site visits. We continue to collect data from caseworkers in the 38 counties that have implemented the P. S. Program and are compiling the data to provide feedback on report completion, most frequently used services, and services that were needed but not received by families. We continue to receive surveys from parents who have had children return home from foster care. 
Inside CFRC

In fall 2016, CFRC launched a University of Illinois campuswide Adverse Childhood Experiences brownbag. We talk to CFRC researcher Michael Braun about this effort.

Q: What prompted you to start the brownbag?

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is an area of study that unites all kinds of fields. Here on campus, we have people looking at administrative data records for children taken into care after reports of maltreatment, and we also have people studying genetic changes caused by childhood trauma. We have researchers focused on clinical treatment of trauma along with others looking at food insecurity as part of agricultural research. It seemed like some fruitful partnerships could come from bringing all these perspectives together. I also wanted a setting where experts would come and help educate people like me who want to learn more about the topic.

Q: What kinds of presentations have you had so far?

We started with Professor Dr.  Marcela Raffaelli in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies here at U of I. She talked about her extensive research with street-involved youth in Brazil, basically children who grow up living on the street and outside the purview of traditional societal institutions. We also heard from a post-doctoral researcher in Special Education, Dr. Katrina Cummings. She spoke about her work with community service providers and their role in creating supportive classrooms for children who have experienced trauma. Our most recent two presentations came from Psychology. Assistant Professor Dr.  Joe Cohen talked about his efforts to expand the usefulness of screening for trauma, and senior graduate student Angela Bustamante talked about her work with Associate Professor             Dr. Monica Uddin on epigenetics and trauma.

I can't thank the presenters enough. They have helped the event grow in size and drive interest in people returning each month. Our audiences have been great too, with lots of questions.

Q: If someone wants to learn more about ACEs, what would you recommend they read?

Depending on the level of knowledge they want, I might start with an article in the New Yorker. There was a great article published in 2011 about a doctor looking at the link between childhood stress and adult health: The Poverty Clinic by Paul Tough. There was also an article about epigenetics published in 2016 called Same But Different by Siddhartha Mukherjee. The CDC also has a good page with info and references that I'd recommend checking out. And if anyone wants more info from our brownbag, they should email me and I will add them to our mailing list.

Q: What's next up for the brownbag?

We continue to meet on the third Thursday of every month at 8:30 AM in Lincoln Hall room 1066. Presentations last about an hour, and I hope anyone interested can come. We will meet four more times this semester (February through May) and then probably take a break for the summer. I'm always looking for presenters, so if anyone is interested--especially anyone from the community--please let me know. Hopefully when we return for our second year in the fall of 2017, we can have an even bigger group and start thinking about collaborative research projects. With the knowledge available on this campus, I think we can make a difference in the lives of children and those who experienced trauma in childhood. When researchers get outside of their disciplines and start thinking about real world problems, great things happen!

What We're Reading

There is so much great research published each month, we can hardly keep up! Here are a couple articles that have caught our attention. 

Disproportionate representation of minority groups in child welfare remains a concern across the United States. As we work on this year's B.H. report, we are reviewing Nancy Rolock's work on disproportionality. Her article from 2011 remains informative today--New Methodology: Measuring Racial or Ethnic Disparities in Child Welfare, published in Children and Youth Services Review

A more recent article that caught our attention comes from Katie McLaughlin and Margaret Sheridan--Beyond Culmulative Risk: A Dimensional Approach to Childhood Adversity, published in Current Directions in Psychological Science in 2016. In it, McLaughlin and Sheridan argue that we need to move away from cumulative scores of adverse childhood experiences and instead find ways to classify adversity types and begin to understand more about the causal process that leads from childhood adversity to challenges in later life. 

What have you been reading lately? Let us know via the contact information below.

Connect with Us

We want to hear from you! You can contact CFRC at or via phone at (217) 333-5837. Visit our website at . 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.