News From the Field (December 2020)
National child welfare policy, practice and research
The Field Center completed a national, online survey study of the experiences of older youth in and recently aged out of foster care during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although all segments of the population are affected, it is especially harmful to members of social groups in vulnerable situations, including youth in foster care and those who have recently exited care. Our goal was to learn about participants’ housing, food security, finance, education, employment, health, mental health, and personal connections over one month of the COVID-19 crisis. Among our findings:
Almost half of participants reported COVID-19 having a negative impact on their living situation and nearly three-quarters reported a financial situation that would be stable for no more than one month. Fifty-five percent of participants reported being food-insecure as a result of COVID-19 and almost half reported COVID-19 having a negative impact on their employment. Two-thirds of participants reported that COVID-19 was having a major negative impact on their educational progress and slightly more than half reported symptoms of depression or anxiety

The resulting report, The Experiences of Older Youth In & Aged Out of Foster Care During COVID-19, published in September 2020, offers recommendations that could have an immediate impact on the safety, health, and well-being of older youth with foster care experience, as well as recommendations for overall improvements in the delivery of child welfare services to promote resiliency and preparation for future public health crises or disasters.
This report would not have been possible without the time and energy of the 281 youth who participated in an online survey during an unprecedented public health crisis. Their emotional labor serves to educate us all on the needs of older youth transitioning from foster care and we can only hope that their energy produces positive changes for the young people still in foster care. We are grateful to each and every young person for taking the time to let us know how COVID-19 has affected them.

To view a short video highlighting report findings, click here.
The Field Center is delighted to welcome Ethan Falkove to our Advisory Board. Mr. Falkove is a Managing Director in Neuberger Berman’s Private Equity Group. Ethan is primarily responsible for sourcing, evaluating, structuring and purchasing secondary investment opportunities. He is a member of several investment and valuation committees at Neuberger Berman. Ethan received his M.B.A. from Columbia Business School and his B.S. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Ethan lives in New York with his wife and four children. 
By Sirui Chen, MSW Graduate Student
November was National Adoption Month – a federal initiative calling for attention to the urgent need for adoptive families for children in foster care. This year’s theme, “Engage Youth: Listen and Learn,” highlighted the importance of listening to and learning from older youth in foster care and supporting them in securing lifelong legal and emotional connections.

In recognition of the recent conclusion of National Adoption Month, The Field Center wishes to share a documentary that highlights the challenges with regards to permanency for older youth in foster care. Unadopted starts with filmmaker Noel Anaya’s question of why he had never been adopted, eventually emancipating from the foster care system. After leaving the foster care system, he started his journey to find his past. Three other young adults, Chris, Sequoia, and Tisha are also introduced in this documentary. The documentary shows their different backgrounds, experiences, and attitudes towards pursuing “forever family,” and emphasizes the hardships incurred by older youth in finding adoptive families.

Through the Multidisciplinary Student Training Institute, The Field Center provides internship and field placement opportunities for selected students across multiple disciplines. Students receive training, career mentorship, and hands-on work opportunities within the field of child welfare. Each year, The Field Center works with graduate social work students, a law fellow in child welfare policy, and other promising graduate and undergraduate students, to create the next generation of leaders. Meet two of our stellar 2020-2021 graduate student interns below (Full bios here):
Sirui Chen joined the Field Center in September 2020 as a 2nd year full-time MSW student from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice with a macro concentration. Her first-year field placement was at United Communities Southeast Philadelphia where she worked as a truancy case manager intern to support students attending Furness High School in South Philadelphia. She graduated from Renmin University of China in 2019 with her Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
Chih McDermott is a J.D. Candidate in his second year at Penn Law and the Field Center’s 2020-2021 Lerner Fellow in Child Welfare Policy. Chih earned a B.A. from Williams College in 2014 and an M.Ed. from Boston University in 2016. He started his professional career with Teach for America (TFA) and taught mathematics for five years at Durfee High School in Fall River, MA. During his summers, Chih helped train new teachers with TFA and worked as an education policy intern in the Rhode Island Governor’s Office.
Field Center Faculty Director Cindy Christian, MD, gave the following virtual talks: “Protecting children in the age of alternative facts: lessons from the front line” at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health Grand Rounds, Madison, WI and as the Hans Hartenstein Lecture, Upstate Medical University, State University of New York, Syracuse, NY; “Abusive Head Trauma: Evidence, obfuscation and informed management” with Ann-Christine Duhaime, MD at the 17th International Conference on Shaken Baby Syndrome / Abusive Head Trauma in Philadelphia, PA; “A medical crib sheet for homicide investigations and prosecutors” with Vincent Palusci, MD at the Trauma Investigations Bootcamp, Babies and Toddlers, Inc; and “Recognizing and responding to child sexual abuse” at the Villanova Task Force on the Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church in Villanova, PA.

Program Manager Sarah Wasch, MSW presented a session titled “Strengthening the Pathway to Higher Education Success for Youth in Foster Care” at the Virtual Paving the Way to Educational Success Conference.
Field Center experts recently published the following:

Barth, R.P. Jonson-Reid, M., Greeson, J.K.P., Drake, B., Berrick, J.D., Garcia, A.R., Shaw, T.V., and Gyourko, J. (2020). Outcomes following child welfare services: What are they and do they differ for black children? Journal of Public Child Welfare, 14(5), 477-499. doi: 10.1080/15548732.2020.1814541

Christian, C.W., Finck, K.R., Connolly, C., Jaffee, S., Greeson, J., Garcia, A., Carlough, S.L., & Watts, C.L. (2020). Tear down those walls: The future of graduate education in child and family advocacy. International Journal of Child Maltreatment: Research, Policy, & Practice, 3(3), 307-315. doi: 10.1007/s42448-020-00057-3

Greeson, J.K.P., Garcia, A.R., Tan, F., Chacon, A., & Ortiz, A.J. (2020). Interventions for youth aging out of foster care: A state of the science review. Children and Youth Services Review, 113. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2020.105005
The Field Center in the Media:
COVID-19 Strips Safety Net for Foster Youth ‘Aging Out’ During Pandemic
MedPage Today

Lack of coordination leaves many transition-age youth homeless, hungry, and alone

Radio Times Regional Roundup

As the second guest on the show, University of Pennsylvania researcher and Associate Professor Johanna Greeson discusses the hardships facing youth who are aging out of foster care during the pandemic. (Section begins at 13:50.)
The Sulfonamide Revolution and Children's Health Care Delivery in the US

Cynthia Connolly, PhD, RN, FAAN, spoke on October 15th. The program was live-streamed globally, and archived, by NIH VideoCasting.

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