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Volume 14 | August 2016 

A Letter from Our Director
We are surviving the heat, and we hope you are too! Here at CFRC, there's the heat outside and the heat from our copier, as it ran off copies of our yearly monitoring report of the B.H. consent decree, now with the plaintiff and defendant attorneys for review. 

To quote the band Talking Heads, "Same as it ever was," but this year, we want to see if we can share the results of the B.H. report in formats other than a lengthy report. We still want people to read the full report, of course, but we also want people to learn from the report even if they have just a few minutes (or a few seconds) of time. 

We will be rolling out some of our ideas for accomplishing this goal toward the end of summer and beginning of fall. But we wonder right now, what ideas do you have for distributing the B.H. report findings in new and interesting ways? Will you send your ideas to us? You can email us at and find other ways to contact us at the end of the newsletter. 

We hope you enjoy our August newsletter!
Tamara Fuller, Ph.D., Director, Children and Family Research Center

Project Updates and News

Comings and Goings

In May, we welcomed a new data analyst, Shufen Wang. Shufen will defend her dissertation in the Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology at the University of Albany in December. We are happy she could start work here before then. Shufen also earned a master's degree in biostatistics during her Ph.D. studies and interned at the New York State Department of Health. Right now, she is contributing to our ongoing B.H. consent decree work. 

In June, we bid farewell to our longtime data analyst Xinrong Lei. Xinrong gave birth to a son, Caius, in February. She brought him (and her husband Jason) to work at the end of the month. We loved seeing Caius, even as we were sad to bid farewell to Xinrong. Here is a photo of Xinrong and Caius visiting our office. 

B.H. Report for 2016 Completed

The monitoring report of the B.H. consent decree is our annual report on the status of foster children in the state of Illinois. It is CFRC's seminal publication, the result of the same decree that led to the founding of our center. This year's report is currently under review with B.H. consent decree plaintiff and defense attorneys. When finalized, a digital version of the report will be available on our website. We are also working on new ways to share findings from the report. Stay tuned for more details about these efforts soon. 

CFRC Attends DCFS Town Hall in Springfield

To share information about DCFS's recent strategic plan, Director George Sheldon is holding town hall meetings around the state. Four CFRC researchers attended Director Sheldon's event in Springfield on July 19. We were excited to hear about new plans, especially efforts to expand experiential training and update the SACWIS system. 

Here are two photos from the event. First, Director Sheldon answers a question; on the screen you can see answers from a live poll asking the audience to name the most pressing issue facing DCFS. 

Second, CFRC research specialist Michael Braun talked with Director Sheldon after his presentation. 

Upcoming CQI Conference

Our 2nd Annual CQI Conference will be held on October 17 and 18 at the       I Hotel in Champaign, IL. Workshop proposals have been selected, and we will have an exciting range of topics, from data visualization and using Excel to using CANS data to improve outcomes for youth. Registration includes access to all sessions, mini-consultations with our keynote speaker (Debra Natenshon), facilitated roundtables as well as breakfast and lunch.  Registration will open later in August, so check the conference website frequently for the latest updates. We hope to see you there!

Project Updates

Work continues on our evaluation projects  in Oregon and Wisconsin. For Oregon's Differential Response (DR) evaluation, we continue to receive responses to our parent surveys and will soon begin parent phone interviews. We are in the process of completing the preliminary report for the online staff survey, and our partner, Pacific Research and Evaluation, completed a report on the second round of site visits in counties that have implemented differential response. We are also preparing for a case review that will examine fidelity to the Oregon Safety Model.
For our Wisconsin project, we submitted to the Children's Bureau the Interim Evaluation Report of the Title IV-E waiver evaluation of Wisconsin's Post-Reunification Support (P.S.) Program. We continue to collect data from caseworkers in the 38 counties that have implemented the P.S. Program and to compile the data to provide continual feedback on report completion, most frequently used services, and services that were needed but not received by families. We continue to receive survey responses from families that have had children return home from foster care. We are currently preparing for a second round of site visits in a subset of P.S. Program counties to meet with administrators, caseworkers, and supervisors. 

Inside CFRC

The 4th annual LGBTQ Research Symposium was held May 19-20, 2016, at the I Hotel and Conference Center here in Champaign-Urbana. CFRC is one of the sponsors, and our graduate assistant Jacob Goffnett served on the symposium's steering committee. We talk to him about the event.

Q: Tell us more about the symposium.
This is the fourth year of the symposium. It's always been held here in Urbana-Champaign, but we have researchers, educators, and practitioners from around the country and the world travel here to attend. Attendees and presenters are experts from a wide range of fields: social work, human development and family sciences, psychology, sociology, education and even fields like music. That's the whole idea of the event. I'll quote from the symposium's website: Its mission is to "develop a strong interdisciplinary and collaborative network of students, scholars, practitioners, and policy makers focusing on research challenges and opportunities unique to working with LGBTQ populations."

Q: What specific kinds of challenges and opportunities did this year's event focus on?
This year's theme was "Recentering LGBTQ studies: Emerging conversations in the field." The symposium was centered around acknowledging the growth in visibility and rights among LGBTQ individuals nationally and around the world, while also highlighting the challenges still faced by the community. For example, there have been incredible strides in areas like marriage equality, but at the same time, states are passing laws that use birth certificates to police bathroom access. Gay marriage is legal in 20-plus countries around the world, but it's illegal to be anything other than straight and cis-gendered in over 70 countries. There's a lot of work left to be done.

Q: Are any of those issues unique to children and teens?
That was a huge focus of this year's event. One of the most important issues facing youth in the LGBTQ community is homelessness. Nearly 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, but this issue is seldom covered in the mainstream media or by researchers on youth homelessness. If we want to help these kids, including providing them services and keeping them out of the juvenile justice system, then we have to recognize who they are and how that increases their risks of homelessness, not to mention sexual exploitation and violence.

Q: What kinds of panels addressed these issues?
One panel looked at barriers to help seeking. How can we encourage these young people to find resources and get the help they need? Other panels focused on trans* youth, violence and abuse, negotiating identities in context, and parenting and socialization. One area of the symposium that is always popular looks at ways to translate research into practice. As a social worker and researcher, I was impressed by how many of the panels had implications for research and practice. That's one of the many ways we hope the symposium can make a difference in the lives of real people, including LGBTQ youth.

Q: What part of the symposium stood out to you the most?
Probably the most memorable moment was the keynote address by Dr. Juan Battle. Dr. Battle is a sociologist who studies race, sexuality, and social justice at CUNY. He is a very charismatic and entertaining speaker, and he used these skills to highlight his message: queer everything. For child welfare, this means keeping track of LGBTQ youth and families under their care. Right now, a majority of states don't do this. To me, the message means more than just being inclusive of LGBTQ identities. To me, to "queer everything" means to expand your research, teaching, and practice to be inclusive and innovative, to use your unique perspective to solve problems and make changes, for the LGBTQ community and for everyone. 

What We're Reading

Our CFRC Journal Club continues to flourish. Here are a few articles we've read for our monthly discussion group.

In May, we read an article by Sara Wolf Feldman and colleagues, titled "Not too late: Effects of a diligent recruitment program for hard to place youth." The article describes the effects of extra efforts to find lasting homes for children who traditionally languish in the child welfare system. It's a hopeful article that demonstrates extra effort can result in creating new connections. 

In June, we read an article on predictive analytics, a burgeoning field in child welfare that aims to provide guidance about where scarce resources can be most effective. The article--"Predictive analytics and child protection: Constraints and opportunities" by Jesse Russell--is a good primer for anyone interested in this field. Our conversation centered around when predictive analytics are most useful, how to explain predictive analytics to a general audience, and our predictive analytical models for Wisconsin. 

Finally, in July, we read Rick Hood's article "How professionals talk about complex cases: A critical discourse analysis." The methodology in this paper differed from our usual reading, and it prompted us to consider the discourses we employ when talking about the child welfare system. 

Do you have any reading suggestions for us? 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 November.