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Richard Atlas is co-founder and trustee of The Atlas Family Foundation, Los Angeles, CA; retired general partner, Goldman Sachs & Co, and a Board Member of ZERO TO THREE since 2001. Mr. Atlas and his wife, Lezlie, are philanthropists, who are dedicated to supporting parents and early childhood professionals to have an impact on healthy development in the first years of life. The Atlas Family Foundation works in partnership with its grantees to help lay solid foundations on which to build social, emotional, and cognitive development that can enhance learning in school and throughout life.
Mr. Atlas has a particular interest in increasing the sensitivity of business leaders to the impact of company attitudes and policies on family priorities.
July 2008: Current Trends in Child Welfare Policy & Practice
Inequities in Infancy: Addressing the Overrepresentation of African American Infants in the Child Welfare System
Brenda Jones Harden
African American infants have higher rates of child welfare system involvement than any other demographic group. They are overrepresented at every point on the child welfare continuum, from reporting, to substantiation,
to foster care placement, to adoption. Racial disparities have also been noted in the services these children receive. This article reviews the evidence on the experiences of African American children in the child welfare system, with a particular focus on infants.
The author provides policy and practice recommendations to reduce racial disproportionality and to address the
unique needs of African American infants.
Collaborative Care: Infant Mental Health Consultation in a Child Welfare Setting
Evelyn Wotherspoon, Marlene O’Neill-Laberge, Susan Rafaat, June Pirie, David Hammel, and Liane MacDonald
The Collaborative Mental Health Care program offers infant mental health consultations to case managers in child protection offices throughout the city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Through case examples, the authors demonstrate why clinicians working with maltreated infants should expand the scope of their practice to include multidisciplinary training, program development, and policy advocacy.
From Science to Policy to Practice: The Evolving Implementation of Federally Mandated Referrals From Child Welfare to Part C Early Intervention
Taletha M. Derrington and John A. Lippitt
Scientifically based federal legislation now requires states to develop and implement policies for referring children less than 3 years old with substantiated cases of abuse or neglect to state Early Intervention systems. This legislation is a critical first step, but further attention is needed to translate it into scientifically based practice. This article describes initial state responses and the current status of state referral policies. The authors discuss ongoing challenges in system capacity, funding, policy development, and engaging families, and they provide promising strategies to address these issues.
Babies At Double Jeopardy: Medically Fragile Infants and Child Neglect
Suzanne A. Fullar
Medically fragile infants, those born prematurely or with other complex medical or genetic problems, are at risk of long-term health and developmental problems. When a medically fragile infant comes home to a family with significant social problems such as domestic violence, mental illness, or substance abuse, the infant is at double jeopardy—at risk of both child neglect and poor developmental outcome. To be effective, early intervention services must address the needs of the family as well as those of the infant. When neglect occurs, collaboration among medical, early intervention, child welfare, and judicial systems is critical to ensure that these infants reach their full potential.
The Role of Child Care Providers in Child Abuse Prevention
Nancy L. Seibel, Linda G. Gillespie, and Tabitha Temple
Child care providers are likely to be the professionals who most frequently interact with families with young children. Thus, infant and toddler child care providers are uniquely positioned to recognize and respond to families’ needs for information and support. This article describes knowledge, skills, and strategies that support child care providers in creating effective partnerships with parents that enhance program quality, build protective factors for families, and help to reduce the risk of child maltreatment.
Critical Issues in Foster Care: Lessons The Children’s Ark Learned From Barbara and Nathan
Janet Mann, Molly D. Kretchmar, and Nancy L. Worsham
Using an attachment theory framework, this article explores several critical issues in foster care as reflected in the case of Barbara and her 9-month-old son, Nathan. Barbara and Nathan participated in The Children’s Ark, an innovative intervention for families in foster care that allowed mothers who had lost custody of their children to live, full time, with them. Barbara’s experience at the Ark powerfully illustrates the intergenerational effects of early maltreatment as well as the pain of confronting that past. Nathan’s experience demonstrated the critical need for security, which, because of her past, Barbara struggled to provide. Over time, Barbara came to realize that it was in Nathan’s bests interests to relinquish custody so that he could be moved to a permanent placement, another critical need. Finally, this article illustrates how a carefully planned transition allowed Nathan, at age 2, to have some understanding of what was happening and to eventually claim his new caregiver.
Concurrent Planning and Beyond: Family-Centered Services for Children in Foster Care
Lucy Hudson, Connie Almeida, Dawn Bentley, Josie Brown, Daria Harlin, and Judy Norris
Family reunification is not always possible for children who have been removed from the care of their biological parents because of abuse or neglect. Concurrent planning puts into place a secondary plan for a permanent home should family reunification prove to be impossible. Working in four diverse communities around the country in an innovative program that involves local judicial systems and community partners, the authors illustrate the importance of ongoing parental assessment and involvement, as well as the benefit of family teams, which support families as they try to overcome problems and move toward creating safe and permanent homes.