Volume 15 | November 2016 

A Letter from Our Director
Elections can be trying for our nation. They are a good time to remind ourselves of our highest priority: protecting the welfare of all children. This October, CFRC did just that as we celebrated our 20th anniversary. I'd like to share with you the text of the toast I made to mark the occasion:

"As most of you know, the Children and Family Research Center was created in 1996 through a cooperative agreement between the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Social Work and Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. The cooperative agreement stated that the purpose of the Center was to 'maintain a research program that is responsive to the Department's mission and responsibilities under statutes and court orders and contribute to scientific knowledge about child safety, permanency, and well-being.' 

"Over the past 20 years, I like to think that we have fulfilled this mission with a reasonable degree of success. Our research has helped child welfare departments in Illinois and several other states shape policy and practice related to safety assessment, post-reunification and post-adoption services, subsidized guardianship, services to parents struggling with alcohol and other drug addiction, and differential response initiatives.

"I started work here at CFRC in May 1997, and I could not be more proud of the work that we do. I think we all want to feel like we are part of something bigger than ourselves, and I truly believe that the work we do here has a large-scale impact on children and families in Illinois and across the country. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of the Center's work, and here's to the next 20 years!"

Thank you to all who were able to attend or sent along well-wishes. We hope you enjoy our November newsletter!
Tamara Fuller, Ph.D., Director, Children and Family Research Center

Project Updates and News

New Website Goes Live

CFRC launched a refreshed and updated version of our website in September, heralding a new look, increased speed, and a better fit for mobile devices and tablets.  Our previous website was designed in 2007 and had recently started to show its age. Our web developer Dan Phillips implemented a new framework to bring it up to date visually, while keeping our content in familiar places for frequent website users. In addition to a fresher look, the new site boasts faster load times, as well as adapting to different screen sizes and devices. You can check out the newly-overhauled site for yourself at . In the photo below, Dan poses with the new site after demoing it before launch. 

Comings and Goings

In October, we welcomed a new data analyst, Kyle Adams. Kyle brings expertise in database management and will be working extensively with our projects for the state of Illinois. Kyle has a bachelor's degree in business management from Millikin University and a master's degree in management information systems from the University of Illinois Springfield. Kyle has worked at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for almost 10 years in reporting and analytics. Kyle's wife is a physician, and they have a 3 month old son, Kyle Adams IV. 

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 has been formatted and printed. We will soon present it to stakeholders. After that, we will release the report on our website. Would you like a hard copy? Let us know, and we will mail one to you when they arrive! We will also have a research brief highlighting some of the findings up on our website when the report ready. 

2nd Annual CQI Conference

Our 2nd Annual CQI Conference was held on October 17 and 18 at the           I Hotel in Champaign, IL. Conference participants attended a wide array of presentations, from data visualization and using Excel to using CANS data to improve outcomes for youth. Conference materials will be posted on the conference website soon. You will also be able to watch videos of each session. Next year's conference dates have already been decided: Tuesday, November 7 and Wednesday, November 8, 2017 . Mark your calendars!

Multiple Sclerosis Report Published

CFRC Senior Research Specialist Dr. Ted Cross and co-authors have published a new report for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The report describes the results of interviews with parents of children who were diagnosed with pediatric onset multiple sclerosis (POMS). The results describe the challenges of MS, while also highlighting the strength and resilience shown by parents and their children diagnosed with MS. Dr. Cross and his co-authors hope the study can help clinicians provide better medical and psychosocial care to these families. You can find the report here

Other Project Updates

Our evaluation projects  in Wisconsin and Oregon are keeping us very busy. We continue to receive responses to the parent survey for the Oregon Differential Response (DR) evaluation and hope to wrap up this part of the evaluation soon. Parent interviews are in full swing for a smaller sample of parents. We recently completed the online staff survey analysis and report. Our partner, Pacific Research and Evaluation, conducted another round of site visits in counties that have implemented differential response and will prepare a report on this. We are also conducting a case review examining fidelity to the Oregon Safety Model. Results from these pieces along with administrative data analysis will be presented in our next interim report, due December 15. 
For the Title IV-E waiver evaluation  of Wisconsin's Post-Reunification Support (P. S.) program, we recently completed a second round of site visits in a subset of P. S. counties to meet with administrators, caseworkers, and supervisors. 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. We are also calling select families in a matched sample of both the treatment and control groups to maximize participation in the survey. 

Inside CFRC

CFRC marked our 20th anniversary on Thursday, October 13, with a reception and toasts after the School of Social Work's 10th anniversary Brieland Lecture. The Brieland Lecture is an annual event about child welfare supported by an endowment created by Dr. Donald Brieland and his family. Dr. Brieland was a leader in child welfare and social work and the law, and served as Dean of the School of Social Work from 1975 to 1981. Here are some photos from the event. 

CFRC Director Dr. Tami Fuller poses with Brieland lecturer Dr. Emily Putnam-Hornstein, an associate professor at the University of Southern California. Dr. Putnam-Hornstein spoke on her work in predictive risk modeling and its use in child welfare systems. 

Dr. Fuller poses with Dr. Wynne Korr, dean of the School of Social Work. The lecture is supported by an endowment created by Dean Korr's late husband Dr. Donald Brieland and his family. 

Dean Korr talks with Vice Provost Dr. Paul Ellinger at the CFRC 20th anniversary reception. We were also honored that Vice Chancellor for Research Dr. Peter Schiffer was able to attend. 

Dr. Fuller and CFRC research data analyst Dr. Satomi Wakita toast to 20 years of research in child welfare and many more years to come. 

School of Social Work Professor Sandra Kopels was the winner of the "grand" prize drawing. School of Social Work Advancement Program Coordinator Amy Frederick looks on with... jealousy?  

Thank you to everyone who attended our reception or sent your well-wishes. 

What We're Reading

Each month, the CFRC Journal Club meets to discuss an article related to child welfare. Here are the articles we've read most recently for our monthly discussion group.

In August, we reviewed an article from 2013, "Issues in Differential Response" by Ronald C. Hughes, Judith S. Rycus, et al. It was a good reminder of how differential response programs in child protection systems continue to evolve and change in response to reasoned, evidenced criticism. We continue to be disappointed, however, in the ways that DR is misrepresented by those critical of it. Our discussion focused on ways to enhance the assessment of new CPS programs and on ways to solicit constructive criticism for initiatives like DR.

We turned our attention to technology in September, reading an article published in Adoption Quarterly, "From Face-to-Face to Facebook: The Role of Technology and Social Media in Adoptive Family Relationships with Birth Family Members" by Kaitlin A. Black, April M. Moyer, and Abbie E. Goldberg. This qualitative exploration of 40 families highlighted how technology changes the possibility of connection between birth and adoptive families, while many questions (when to have contact and how much) remain the same. 

Finally, in October we read Leroy H. Pelton's essay in Child Abuse and Neglect, "Separating Coercion from Provision in Child Welfare," as well as Sarah Font's letter to the editor in response. This was one of the most divisive articles we've read. Our debate centered around how much coercion is inextricable from systems with dramatic power imbalances, whether liberal arguments in favor of a public good are applicable in today's political climate (where arguments about who is and is not a member of a public are center to many political debates, including our recent presidential election), and the quality of supporting evidence for Pelton's arguments. 

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 February.