Newsroom


Aug 2018 / News Release    

The CFRC Newsletter for August 2018

In this issue: An “Inside CFRC” detailing some of our researchers’ favorite pieces from the soon-to-be-released B.H. Report, visitors from England, project updates and more!

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Aug 2018 / Research Brief / Safety    

Examining Child Deaths in Illinois: Highlights from the Child Death Review Team Annual Report

Steve Tran and Tamara Fuller

This research brief, the second in a series that highlights the important work of the Illinois Child Death Review Teams (CDRTs) in Illinois, highlights the findings from the most recent CDRT annual report on child deaths that occurred in Illinois in 2016, which is written by the CFRC. The brief presents summary information about child deaths in Illinois by age, manner of death, and category of death, as well as examples of CDRT recommendations to prevent child deaths.

Aug 2018 / Research Brief / Safety    

Trends in Illinois Child Deaths Between 2007 and 2016

Tamara Fuller and Steve Tran

This research brief, the third in a series that highlights the important work of the CDRTs in Illinois, uses data from the annual CDRT reports to examine trends in child deaths over the past decade. The brief describes trends in total child deaths and trends in the number of deaths by child age, manner of death, and category and death.

Aug 2018 / Report / Child Welfare Practice    

Illinois Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol: FY2018 Annual Evaluation

Tamara Fuller, Satomi Wakita, Martin Nieto, and Yu-Ling Chiu

The current report examined CERAP completion by caseworkers during an intact family case between FY2014 and FY2017. Using the most stringent criteria, meaning that the caseworker not only completed a CERAP safety assessment but also checked the correct milestone, completion rates varied substantially for the different intact family case milestones: 1) between 67% and 76% of intact family cases each year had a CERAP assessment within 15 days of case opening, and the percentage has been increasing over time. 2) between 17-18% of intact family cases had a CERAP completed every 90 days during the time that the case was open. 3) between 56% and 65% of the intact family cases with an unsafe safety decision had another CERAP completed within 5 working days, and the percentage has been increasing over time. 4) between 64% and 71% of intact family cases had a CERAP completed within 30 days prior to the case close date or within 5 days after it, and the percentage has been increasing over time.

May 2018 / News Release    

The CFRC Newsletter for May 2018

In this issue: Reflections on Resilience, outcome monitoring folds in CFSR measures, what we’re reading, project updates and more!

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May 2018 / News Release    

The Center’s Ted Cross Selected for ASPAC’s Mark Chaffin Award for 2018

The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children has selected CFRC’s Ted Cross as the 2018 winner of the Mark Chaffin Outstanding Research Career Achievement Award. This Award recognizes an APSAC member who has made repeated, significant and outstanding contributions to research on child maltreatment over her or his career. ASPAC will officially grant the award at this year’s 25th Annual Colloquium in New Orleans in June. You can read more about Dr. Cross’ work on the Center’s website here.

Mar 2018 / Presentation / Child Welfare Administration and Policy, Child Welfare Practice, Outcome Monitoring, Well Being    

10 Things Early Interventionists Need To Know About The Child Welfare System

Catherine Corr, Michael T. Braun, and Steve Tran

In March 2018, CFRC researchers Michael T. Braun and Steve Tran partnered with University of Illinois Special Education assistant professor Catherine Corr to present a webinar for the Early Intervention Training Program at the University of Illinois. The webinar, titled 10 Things Early Interventionists Need To Know About The Child Welfare System, focused on demystifying the child welfare system for early interventionists and service providers. Topics included an overview of the child welfare system, the process of making a hotline call, ways to support families who have experienced past trauma, and how early interventionists can work with child welfare workers to support children and families.

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Feb 2018 / Research Brief / Child Welfare Practice, Program Evaluation, Safety  

Assessing an Innovative Method for Training Child Protection Investigators: Program Evaluation of the Child Protection Training Academy’s Simulation Program

Yu-Ling Chiu and Ted Cross

Since 2016, the Child Protection Training Academy (CPTA) at the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS) has collaborated with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to implement the Child Protection Training Academy, which adds an innovative experiential component to the training of new DCFS investigators. This brief reports results of a preliminary program evaluation that the Children and Family Research Center has conducted of the program. We describe what simulation training is, why it could be valuable, what simulation training has been implemented, and what the preliminary data on its implementation and impact suggests about its value for enhancing worker preparation to serve children and families.

Feb 2018 / News Release    

The CFRC Newsletter for February 2018

In this issue: ACEs Brownbag speakers announced, a look inside the “Code Club,” expansion of the BH report, and more!

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Jan 2018 / Report / Child Welfare Practice, Program Evaluation, Safety    

Program Evaluation of Child Protection Training Academy for New DCFS Investigators: Initial Report

Ted Cross, Gail Tittle, and Yu-Ling Chiu

Investigating child abuse and neglect is a difficult job and investigators need all the preparation they can get. Given the demands of working with families in child protections, transferring theory to practice is particularly essential. Ideally, the initial training that new child protection workers receive should give them opportunities to practice the skills they need such as engaging families and assessment and critical thinking skills for protecting child safety. The Child Protection Training Academy at the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS) has collaborated with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to add an innovative experiential component to the training of new DCFS investigators. All new investigators come to Child Protection Training Academy at UIS for a week at the end of their initial training to participate in simulations of real life situations that every DCFS investigator encounters. This program evaluation is consistent with the formative state of knowledge in the field and the fact that the Child Protection Training Academy is in a comparatively early stage of development. At this early stage, the program evaluation has focused on gathering data to describe the program’s objectives, methods and training theory, and examining trainees’ and other stakeholders perception of the impact of the training. The goal is to inform program development and improvement, provide evidence of the program’s immediate impact on trainees, and help prepare for more rigorous program evaluation in the future.

Dec 2017 / Report / Outcome Monitoring, Permanency, Safety  

Conditions of Children in or at Risk of Foster Care in Illinois: 2016 Monitoring Report of the B.H. Consent Decree

Tamara Fuller, Martin Nieto, Satomi Wakita, Shufen Wang, Kyle Adams, Saijun Zhang, Yu-Ling Chiu, and Michael Braun

This annual report provides information on the performance of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services with regard to the outcomes for children who are in or at risk of substitute care. This monitoring report, required as part of the B.H. Consent Decree, examines measures of child safety, family and placement stability, continuity, and permanence. In addition, this year's report adds a fourth chapter that examines racial disproportionality and disparity in the Illinois child welfare system.

Dec 2017 / Research Brief / Child Welfare Administration and Policy, Child Welfare Practice, Foster Care, Outcome Monitoring, Permanency, Program Evaluation, Safety, Well Being    

Five Findings from the 2016 B.H. Monitoring Report

Children and Family Research Center

The Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) produces the annual monitoring report of the B.H. Consent Decree, which tracks the performance of the Illinois child welfare system in achieving its stated goals of child safety, permanency, and well-being for children in or at risk of entering foster care. The full report, available on the CFRC website, contains information about Illinois performance on more than 40 measures over the past seven years. This brief highlights five key findings from the latest report, which tracks performance through the end of FY2016.

Children and Family Research Center. (2017). Five findings from the 2016 B.H. monitoring report. Urbana, IL: Children and Family Research Center, University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign.

Nov 2017 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    

National TeleNursing Center: Interim Program Evaluation Findings on the TeleNursing Experience

Wendy Walsh and Ted Cross

Ted Cross of CFRC is leading a research team conducting a program evaluation of the National TeleNursing Center, a pilot project funded by the federal Office for Victims of Crime that uses telemedicine to support clinicians doing forensic medical examinations following sexual assault. Experienced Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) are linked by video technology to nurses in underserved communities who lack the training and experience to do effective exams. SANEs participate virtually in the examination to guide clinicians to provide quality medical care while also collecting biological evidence that may help identify and prosecute the offender. Drs. Cross and Walsh presented interim results gathered from interviews with the teleSANEs and the clinicians they support. This was a presentation at the conference of the International Association of Forensic Nurses in Toronto in October 2017 and was reprised in November 2017 at the New England Rural Health Conference in Bartlett, NH.

Nov 2017 / Journal Publication / Child Welfare Practice, Well Being    

Psychology and Child Protection: Promoting Widespread Improvement in Practice

Ted Cross and Irit Herskowitz

CFRC's Ted Cross, a clinical psychologist by training collaborated with Dr. irit Hershkowitz of the University of Haifa to explore the contribution of psychology to child protection. This article reviews this contribution and suggests opportunities for psychology to contribute more, choosing 3 selected areas: (a) interviewing children to assess child maltreatment, (b) the well-being of children involved with the child protection system, and (c) evidence-based practices to ameliorate the effects of child maltreatment among children involved with the child protection system. Across these areas, psychology has contributed both to the knowledge base and to available assessment and intervention methods. However, in each area, the effect on usual child protection practice has been limited. Psychology has an opportunity to broaden its contribution through research and systems intervention aimed at extending gains in these areas throughoutthe child protection field.

Cross, T. P., & Hershkowitz, I. (2017). Psychology and child protection: Promoting widespread improvement in practice. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 4, 503-518.
Nov 2017 / Research Brief / Child Welfare Administration and Policy, Child Welfare Practice, Foster Care, Outcome Monitoring, Permanency, Safety, Well Being    

Understanding Disproportionality in the Child Welfare System

Michael T. Braun and Yu-Ling Chiu

Disproportionality in the child welfare system refers to the over- or underrepresentation of a group involved with the system compared to that group’s representation in a base population (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2016). This research brief defines racial disproportionality in the child welfare system, including how it is measured and how disproportionality rates should be interpreted. It is the first brief in a series exploring disproportionality in the child welfare system.

Braun, M. T., & Chiu, Y. (2017). Understanding disproportionality in the child welfare system. Urbana, IL: Children and Family Research Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Nov 2017 / Research Brief / Child Welfare Administration and Policy, Child Welfare Practice, Foster Care, Outcome Monitoring, Permanency, Safety    

Exploring Disproportionality in the Illinois Child Welfare System

Michael T. Braun and Yu-Ling Chiu

Disproportionality in the child welfare system refers to the over- or underrepresentation of a group (usually a racial/ethnic group) compared to that group’s representation in a base population. This research brief explores rates of racial disproportionality in the Illinois child welfare system. It is the second brief in a series exploring disproportionality.

Nov 2017 / Presentation / Child Welfare Administration and Policy, Outcome Monitoring, Program Evaluation    

Conducting Meaningful Cost Analysis

Michael T. Braun and Satomi Wakita

Cost analysis is an important consideration when deciding whether a new program or practice is sustainable. This presentation explores practical considerations of conducting cost analyses to help produce meaningful results that are useful to decision-makers and stakeholders. It was originally presented at the third annual Continuous Quality Improvement conference in Champaign, IL.

Nov 2017 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    

Improving the Collection and Reporting of Arrest Data in the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)

Alex Wagner, Ted Cross, Rosa Mazzeo and Dan Bibel

This presentation at the annual American Society of Criminology meeting reports final results on a study of the quality of data on arrests in the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). NIBRS is one of the prime sources for research on arrests in the United States, but this study of data on four crimes suggests that NIBRS may be undercounting arrests, particularly for sexual assault cases. This an update of a May 2017 presentation (i.e., Bibel, et al., The Importance of the Quality of Arrest Data in NIBRS) also listed in CFRC’s publication webpages. These findings suggest ways to improve the recording of arrest data that may increase the accuracy of crime data and research on arrests.

Nov 2017 / News Release    

The CFRC Newsletter for November 2017

In this issue: An “Inside CFRC” with Director Tami Fuller on the future of the B.H. Report, new faces at the Center, a recent presentation given at the Family Engagement Conference, and much more!

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Oct 2017 / Presentation / Child Welfare Practice, Differential Response  

Predicting and Promoting Staff Support of Differential Response in Child Welfare Agencies

Michael T. Braun, Yu-Ling Chiu, Stacy Lake, Tamara Fuller, and Julie Murphy

Child welfare agencies that adopt evidence-supported interventions (ESIs) such as Differential Response (DR) may use concepts from implementation science to guide translation of ESIs into worker practice. The success of these efforts depends in part on worker support for the intervention. This presentation explores the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) staged rollout of DR and associated staff support for the program. It includes description of Oregon’s efforts to build support for DR, as well as quantitative and qualitative data collected from the Children and Family Research Center’s evaluation of Oregon’s DR implementation. The presentation aims to expand our understanding of the factors that promote or inhibit individual-level acceptance of an organizational-level effort to implement DR, and how worker attitudes affect practice change.

Oct 2017 / Presentation / Child Welfare Practice    

Experiential Training for Child Protection Investigators: The Illinois Simulation Training Lab Experience

Ted Cross, Betsy Goulet, Susan Evans, Gail Tittle, and Yu-Ling Chiu

Given the demands of investigating child abuse and neglect, transferring knowledge gained in training into practice to bolster child protection investigators’ skills and confidence is essential. Yet studies of transfer of learning across different domains of employment have shown that only 10 to 15% of training content is transferred to the workplace. Simulation Training Laboratories at the University of Illinois at Springfield is helping to change that with an experiential training program it provides to all new child protection investigators hired by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). New investigators are trained at a Residential Simulation Laboratory in a mock house designed to simulate a family environment and a Courtroom Simulation Laboratory designed to resemble family court. This Children and Family Research Center is conducting the program evaluation of simulation training. This presentation at an international conference gives a brief overview of the program and presents initial program evaluation results.

Oct 2017 / Report / Child Welfare Practice    

Illinois Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol: FY2017 Annual Evaluation

Tamara Fuller and Yu-Ling Chiu

The results of the previous evaluations indicated that rates of CERAP completion at the two milestones immediately before and after reunification were lower than expected. The low compliance with required safety practice raised questions about how judges, attorneys, and placement workers use the information contained within the CERAP to inform their recommendations and decisions about whether to return a child home from substitute care. To gather this information, CFRC designed and administered surveys to juvenile court attorneys and child welfare placement workers; 185 placement workers and 20 attorneys completed the surveys. The results of the surveys indicate that the CERAP is rarely included in the court reports that are shared with attorneys prior to making decisions regarding returning a child home. Additionally, placement workers had mixed views regarding the usefulness of the CERAP for informing decision-making about returning a child home from substitute care: 45% felt that the CERAP was very important, 37% felt that it was somewhat important, and 18% felt that it was not at all important. Responses to the open-ended questions revealed that many placement workers felt that the information included in the CERAP was redundant with information available in other documents they completed at reunification, which may explain why the CERAP is not completed by about a third of the workers either before or after reunification.

Oct 2017 / Presentation / Child Welfare Practice, Differential Response, Well Being  

Is the Urgent-Chronic Taxonomy Applicable in a US Context? A National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being Analysis

John Fluke, Nico Trocme, Jesse Helton, Theodore Cross, Barbara Fallon & Kate Schumaker

This presentation reports results of collaboration between Canadian and American researchers to explore a new method of classifying child maltreatment cases that holds promise for improving child welfare services. Canadian researchers have previously classified child maltreatment cases into two categories: urgent cases characterized by acute harm include cases of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect of very young children, and chroniccases in which harm is thought to develop over the long-term through exposure to neglect, emotional maltreatment, and less severe forms of physical abuse. The urgent vs. chronic distinction has predicted important outcomes in Canadian data, and has important implications for providing a child protection response tailored to children’s needs. The research reported in this presentation applied the urgent vs. chronic classification to the American child welfare system for the first time. The analysis classified cases with American children into the urgent and chronic categories, using data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, a national probability study of children involved in child protection investigations. One-fifth of American cases were classified as urgent, very similar to the 24% found in a Canadian sample. Urgent cases were more likely to be substantiated and lead to out-of-home placements. Chronic cases, on the other hand, were more likely to include children with special needs. The research provides preliminary evidence that the urgent-chronic dichotomy may apply to North American cases generally and suggests the value of further research on this distinction.


Aug 2017 / News Release    

The CFRC Newsletter for August 2017

In this issue: Our new collaboration with Wisconsion DCF, opening of registration for the third annual CQI Conference in November, an “Inside CFRC” on racial disproportionality, and much more!

External Link
Jun 2017 / Report / Differential Response, Program Evaluation    

Oregon Differential Response Final Evaluation Report

Tamara Fuller, Michael T. Braun, Yu-ling Chiu, Theodore P. Cross, Martin Nieto, Gail Tittle, and Satomi Wakita

Following a lengthy and thorough exploration and planning process, the Oregon Department of Human Services began implementing Differential Response (DR) in May 2014 as part of a broader reform effort aimed at safely and equitably reducing the number of children in foster care and more effectively addressing the needs of families being referred to Child Protective Services (CPS) for neglect. Through the implementation of DR, DHS hoped to enhance the partnerships between families reported for abuse and neglect, DHS staff, and community partners; increase the number of children who remain safely at home with their families; and reduce the disproportionate representation of children of color in the child welfare system. DHS hired the Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to design and conduct a rigorous and comprehensive evaluation that would accomplish multiple goals, including carefully documenting the DR implementation process, examining the DR model that was being practiced in the districts, testing DHS workers’ fidelity to the Oregon Safety Model (OSM), comparing the outcomes of children and families involved in DR assessments with those who received traditional CPS assessments, and examining the costs associated with practicing DR. This Oregon Differential Response Final Evaluation Report contains thorough descriptions of the methodologies used and the results of the evaluation components, including the implementation, process, outcome, and cost evaluations.

Jun 2017 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    

Research on CACs: What Do We Know and Where Do We Go From Here?

Theodore Cross, Wendy Walsh

Research has made significant contributions to the development of the CAC model, but much remains to be learned and stronger empirical support is needed to develop the model further. This workshop first reviews CAC research to date, including an assessment of previous published CAC research reviews. The workshop then discusses significant research gaps in areas such as criminal investigation and prosecution, victim advocacy, service delivery and MDT functioning. The workshop concludes by discussing steps for moving CAC research forward, and reviews the development of a new NCA Research Advisory Committee formed in 2016.

Jun 2017 / Presentation / Child Welfare Practice, Sexual Abuse and Assault    

Experiential Training for Child Protection Investigators: The UIS Simulation Training Lab Experience

Cross, T., Goulet, B., Evans, S. & Tittle, G.

The Child Protection Training Academy at the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS) is collaborating with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to add an innovative experiential component to the training of new DCFS investigators. The program supplements the classroom-based Foundations Training that every new investigator receives with experiential training days in a Residential Simulation Laboratory and a Courtroom Simulation Laboratory. The Children and Family Research at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is conducting the program evaluation for simulation training. This presentation describes the program, discusses its first year of development, and presents preliminary program evaluation results.

Jun 2017 / News Release    

CFRC Seeks Research Specialist

The Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) at the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is seeking applications for a Research Specialist to join our organization. The Research Specialist will work within a team environment to perform research and evaluation activities that enhance the child welfare and related human service fields, inform state and/or federal policy and practice, and contribute to scientific knowledge about child and family services. For more information about the position, and to apply online, please view its listing at the University’s jobs site via the link below.

External Link
Jun 2017 / News Release    

CFRC Seeks Senior Research Specialist

The Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) at the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is seeking applications for a Senior Research Specialist to join our organization. The Senior Research Specialist will, among other duties, lead an independent program of research on a range of topics relevant to child welfare and family functioning; collaborate with CFRC staff to design high quality, innovative, and policy-relevant research studies; and work with the CFRC Director to ensure that the CFRC remains on the forefront of best practices in research, data analytics, translation, and impact. For more information about the position, and to apply online, please view its listing at the University’s jobs site via the link below.

External Link
May 2017 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    

Biological Evidence in Adult and Adolescent Sexual Assault Cases: Timing and Relationship to Arrest

Ted Cross, Megan Alderden, Alex Wagner, Lisa Sampson, Brittany Peters, and Kaitlin Lounsbury

This study examined the timing of the crime laboratory report relative to arrests in sexual assault cases and explored the relationship between biological evidence and arrest in those cases in which the crime laboratory report came first and thus could have influenced the arrest decision. A random sample (N = 528) of cases that occurred between 2008 and 2010 and included a report to police was drawn from a Massachusetts statewide database of medical reports on sexual assault cases. Data from medical providers were merged with data abstracted from crime laboratory reports and with data requested from police departments. The vast majority (91.5%) of arrests took place before crime laboratory analysis could be conducted. The crime laboratory report was available before or near in time to the arrest in 11 cases. These cases were significantly more likely than other cases to have DNA profiles of the assailant, DNA matches to the suspect, and a match to another investigation in the FBI’s CODIS DNA database. Given that the probable cause needed to make an arrest in these cases was presumably established only after crime laboratory analysis was available, DNA may have helped lead to the arrest in these cases. However, these results should be interpreted very cautiously, because statistically significant results in early, small studies can have inflated effect sizes and often do not replicate in future studies. Because most arrests occur well before biological evidence is available, improvements in recovering biological evidence may have modest effects on arrest rates, though they may impact arrest rates by identifying more serial offenders. Future research on the relationship of biological evidence to arrest should use methods to increase sample size of relevant cases, such as oversampling cases with later arrests and using case control study designs. Future studies should also use case abstraction and interview methods to explore how police use biological evidence to make arrests.

Cross, T.P., Alderden, M.A, Wagner, A., Sampson, L., Peters, B. & Lounsbury, K. (2017). Biological evidence in adult and adolescent sexual assault cases: Timing and relationship to arrest. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/0886260517704229
May 2017 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    

The Importance of the Quality of Arrest Data in NIBRS

Daniel Bibel, Alex Wagner, Theodore Cross, Rosa Mazzeo

This presentation explores the quality of data on arrests in the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). Hundreds of police departments across the United States contribute data on crime incidents to the NIBRS system, which is one of the chief tools nationally for monitoring and researching crime. Over one quarter of studies published using NIBRS focus on arrest issues, but recent research suggests reasons to be concerned about the reliability of arrest data in NIBRS. Ted Cross of the CFRC led a research team studying the quality of NIBRS arrest data. NIBRS arrest data were compared to data from local law enforcement agencies for a sample of 348 crime incidents that occurred in Massachusetts between 2011 and 2013. The sample focused on four crimes: sexual assault, simple assault, aggravated assault, and intimidation. A preliminary analysis suggests that NIBRS may “undercount” arrests, since 24.9% of incidents that should have been counted as arrests in NIBRS were not recorded as arrests in NIBRS data files. Additional analysis not reported in this presentation suggest two reasons for this: 1) law enforcement agencies do not always update NIBRS data files if an arrest was made after initial data were entered, and 2) contrary to instructions in the NIBRS manual, law enforcement agencies did not always record one method of apprehending suspects (issuing a summons) as an arrest. These findings have implications for crime data specialist entering NIBRS data and for researchers using NIBRS data files. A final analysis of these data will be conducted in the summer of 2017.

May 2017 / News Release    

The CFRC Newsletter for May 2017

In this issue: Details on new social media sharing options on our website, updates on ongoing projects, and an “Inside CFRC” look at the April convening of Title IV-E Waiver evaluators in Seattle.

External Link
Apr 2017 / Report / Child Welfare Practice, Safety    

Illinois Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol: FY2016 Annual Evaluation

Yu-ling Chiu, Martin Nieto and Tamara Fuller

The Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP) is a safety assessment protocol used in child protection investigations and child welfare case in Illinois. This “life-of- the case” protocol is designed to provide staff with a mechanism for quickly assessing the potential for moderate to severe harm to children in the immediate or near future and for taking quick action to protect them. Staff utilize the protocol at specified milestones throughout an investigation or child welfare case to help them determine whether a child is safe or unsafe, and if unsafe, decide what actions must be taken to assure their safety. When immediate risk to a child’s safety is identified, the protocol requires that action be taken, such as the implementation of a safety plan or protective custody.

Apr 2017 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    

The Criminal Justice Response to Child Maltreatment: A View from the Multidisciplinary Team

Ted Cross

A presentation by Dr. Ted Cross from the eighth annual Conference of Upstate Child Advocacy Studies held on March 31, 2017.

Apr 2017 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    

The Practice of Prosecuting Child Maltreatment: Results of an Online Survey of Prosecutors

Theodore P. Cross and Debra Whitcomb

Despite efforts by advocates, practitioners, and legislators to alleviate the burden on child maltreatment victims in the criminal justice system, many challenges remain for prosecutors as they seek to hold offenders accountable while minimizing the emotional impact on children. More than 200 state and local prosecutors in 37 states responded to an online survey to share their perspectives on current challenges, procedures to support children in the adjudication process, and the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court opinion in Crawford v. Washington (2004), sex offender registries, and "Safe Harbor" legislation to protect child sexual exploitation victims. Respondents' most pressing challenges were obtaining evidence to corroborate children's statements and the difficulties of working with child victims. Child testimony was ranked as more frequent than any other type of evidence, and least frequent were DNA, photos or videos of criminal acts, and other physical evidence. Prosecutors rely primarily on victim/witness assistants and courtroom tours to prepare children for testimony; technological alternatives are seldom used. Results suggest a real but limited impact of the Crawford opinion on the need for child testimony and on the decision to prosecute. Survey findings indicate a need for greater attention to thorough investigations with particular attention to corroboration. Doing so may strengthen the child's credibility, which is especially critical in cases lacking physical or medical evidence of maltreatment.

Cross, T.P & Whitcomb, D. (2017). The practice of prosecuting child maltreatment: Results of an online survey of prosecutors. Child Abuse & Neglect. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.04.007
Feb 2017 / News Release    

2016 CQI Conference Videos & Materials Now Available

The 2016 conference of the CQI (Continuous Quality Improvement) Community, held in October, included many informative presentations, all of which are available for viewing and reading on their website at the link below. 

External Link
Feb 2017 / News Release    

The CFRC Newsletter for February 2017

In this issue: The long and the short of the newly-released B.H. Report, a talk with Dr. Braun about CFRC's Adverse Childhood Experiences brownbag, and much more!

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Jan 2017 / Report / Outcome Monitoring, Permanency, Safety    

Conditions of Children in or at Risk of Foster Care in Illinois: 2015 Monitoring Report of the B.H. Consent Decree

Tamara Fuller, Martin Nieto, Xinrong Lei, Satomi Wakita, Saijun Zhang, Yu-Ling Chiu, Michael Braun, Theodore P. Cross

This annual report provides information on the performance of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services with regard to the outcomes for children who are in or at risk of substitute care. This monitoring report, required as part of the B.H. Consent Decree, examines measures of child safety, family and placement stability, continuity, and permanence. Detailed break-downs of each indicator by child gender, race, age, and geographic region are provided in the appendix.

Jan 2017 / Research Brief / Outcome Monitoring, Permanency, Safety    

Five Findings from the 2015 B.H. Monitoring Report

CFRC

This research brief describes highlights from the most recent monitoring report of the B.H. Consent Decree. Highlights include details on the use of emergency shelters, a look at the increase in maltreatment of children in care, and a comparison of runaway rates in Cook County and statewide.

Dec 2016 / Report / Differential Response, Program Evaluation    

Oregon Differential Response Initiative: 2016 Interim Evaluation Report

Tamara Fuller, Michael T. Braun, Yu-ling Chiu, Theodore P. Cross, Martin Nieto, Gail Tittle, and Satomi Wakita

The Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) began implementing Differential Response (DR) in 2014, using a carefully planned and staged roll-out strategy that began with implementation in two districts (D5 and D11) in May 2014 and two additional districts (D4 and D16) in April 2015. The Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) conducted comprehensive process, outcome, and cost evaluations in order to answer a lengthy series of research questions related to the DR implementation process, CPS practice throughout the state, fidelity to the DR model, fidelity to the Oregon Safety Model (OSM), and the impact of DR on a variety of child, family, and child welfare system outcomes, including costs. This report describes the findings of the process and outcome evaluations as of December 2016, including chapters on CPS practice in DR and non-DR districts, fidelity to the DR model, and preliminary comparisons of the short-term and intermediate outcomes experienced by families in the two treatment groups (AR and TR) with matched comparison families in non-DR districts.

Nov 2016 / News Release    

The CFRC Newsletter for November 2016

In this issue: Pictures from our 20th anniversary celebration, completion of the 2016 B.H. Report, a new CFRC website launch, and much more!

External Link
Aug 2016 / News Release    

The CFRC Newsletter for August 2016

In this issue: Notes from a recent DCFS town hall in Springfield, an ‘Inside the CFRC’ feature on the 4th annual LGBTQ Research Symposium, updates on our Differential Response and Title IV-E waiver evaluations, and much more!

External Link
Jun 2016 / Research Brief / Child Welfare Administration and Policy    

What Happens When a Child is Reported to Child Protective Services?

Theodore P. Cross, Betsy Goulet, Jesse J. Helton, Emily Lux, Tamara Fuller, and Michael T. Braun

All 50 states have systems for reporting suspected abuse and neglect to child protective services (CPS), and reports are made on thousands of children every year. Outcomes of reporting vary widely, ranging from screening out with no further action at one end to out-of-home placement at the other. Someone making a report to CPS might naturally wonder: What are the chances the child will be visited by child protective services workers, offered services, or even removed from his or her home? But there has been little systematic analysis of the outcomes of reporting to CPS. This brief, adapted from the authors’ chapter in a book on child maltreatment reporting, helps answer these questions using published results and new data analysis from two national data sets on children involved in reports to CPS.

May 2016 / News Release    

CFRC's Ted Cross Presents at Military Sexual Assault Prevention Summit

CFRC Senior Research Professor Ted Cross was invited to present his research at the First Responders Summit held April 14-15 by the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office at historic Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu, HI. Hickam Air Field endured the initial assault by Japanese planes on December 7, 1941, before they moved on to attack the naval fleet in the harbor. Now Hickam is providing leadership in improving the military’s response to its serious problem with sexual assault.

Dr. Cross teamed up with national experts Anne Munch, a consultant, municipal court judge, former prosecutor, and former director of Colorado’s Ending Violence Against Women’s Project; and Jennifer Freyd of the University of Oregon, a leading researcher on sexual assault and memory. The trio spoke first to unit leaders responsible for the safety and well-being of the service members under their command; and then to first responders such as victim advocates, forensic medical examiners, and mental health clinicians. Most of the approximately 100 participants were members of the Air Force, but several branches of the military were represented.

Dr. Cross shared insights from his National Institute Justice-funded research on DNA and the criminal justice response to sexual assault. He illustrated how central DNA is to the prosecution of sexual assault and described its significant relationship to obtaining convictions. He emphasized the critical contribution survivors make when they undergo a forensic medical examination, and the importance of combining forensic methods with effective investigation and support for survivors. Ms. Munch discussed how myths about sexual assault and the predisposition toward blaming or discrediting victims impede investigation and prosecution, and suggested methods for overcoming this bias. Dr. Freyd presented her research that shows that institutional betrayal—the failure of a military unit, university, or other institution to respond seriously and supportively to victims in their community—exacerbates the negative emotional impact of the assault. Survivors who need to remain in these institutions despite the assault may experience “betrayal blindness” and fail to acknowledge to themselves or others the betrayal they feel, making recovery more difficult.

To view Dr. Cross’ presentation from the First Responders Summit, click here (PDF, 400KB).

For more information on Dr. Cross’ research program on forensic evidence and sexual assault, click here.

May 2016 / News Release    

The CFRC Newsletter for May 2016

In this issue: Child well-being data collection, an interview with Dr. Judith Havlicek about Illlinois’ Youth Advisory Boards, a heads-up on the second CQI Conference, our ‘What We’re Reading’ feature, and much more!

External Link
May 2016 / Research Brief / Safety    

Understanding Child Death Review in Illinois

Tamara Fuller, Michael T. Braun, and Saijun Zhang

This research brief, the first in a series that highlights the important work of the Illinois Child Death Review Teams (CDRTs), provides an introduction to child death review in Illinois. The brief discusses the circumstances in which the CDRTs will review a child’s death, the review process, and the impact of child death reviews.

May 2016 / Research Brief / Safety    

Examining Child Deaths in Illinois: Highlights from the Child Death Review Team Annual Report

Saijun Zhang, Tamara Fuller, and Michael T. Braun

This research brief, the second in a series that highlights the important work of the Illinois Child Death Review Teams (CDRTs), highlights key findings from the most recent CDRT annual report, which is written by the CFRC. It presents summary information about child deaths in Illinois examined by demographic characteristics such as age and race, as well as by manner and category of death.

May 2016 / Research Brief / Safety    

Trends in Illinois Child Deaths Between 2004 and 2013

Tamara Fuller, Michael T. Braun, and Saijun Zhang

This research brief, the third in a series that highlights the important work of the Illinois Child Death Review Teams (CDRTs), uses historical data to describe trends in child deaths in Illinois from 2004 to 2013. The brief describes trends in total child deaths and trends in the number of deaths by child age, race, manner of death, and category of death.

May 2016 / Report    

Parents’ Experience of Pediatric Onset Multiple Sclerosis

Ted Cross, Alane Shanks, Lisa Duffy, Mark Gorman, Susana Camposano, Tanuja Chitnis, David Rintell

This report presents findings from a study of families with a child who has pediatric multiple sclerosis (MS). Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system that impairs communication within the brain and between the brain and body, leading to a range of unpredictable and often disabling symptoms. Once thought to affect adults exclusively, pediatric-onset MS has increasingly been diagnosed in recent years. MS can cause children considerable pain and distress and impair their movement, vision, speech, and thinking. It can be extraordinarily stressful for children and their families, and cause considerable stress as children adapt to the effect of MS on learning, functioning at school, peer relationships and life in the family. Parents of children with MS were interviewed to assess the impact of the disease on the child and family, to understand families’ experience with the health care system, and to profile the ways that children and families cope. The families affected by pediatric multiple sclerosis whom we interviewed face significant challenges, but in the course of meeting these challenges, have demonstrated notable resilience.

Apr 2016 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    

Forensic Evidence and Criminal Justice Outcomes in a Statewide Sample of Sexual Assault Cases

Ted Cross

This presentation provided useful findings on forensic evidence and on sexual assault to both unit leaders and first responders in the United States Air Force, drawing from Dr. Ted Cross’ National Institute of Justices-funded research. Results from an initial study suggest that crime laboratory evidence plays a role in only a small number of arrests in sexual assault cases, because the vast majority of arrests take place soon after the reported incident, well before crime laboratory analysis. But DNA evidence was significantly more likely in the small number of arrests that took place later, after the crime laboratory analysis was completed. This suggests the potential impact of DNA in making arrests that occur well after the incident. In the second study, DNA matches were significantly related to obtaining convictions in sexual assault cases, though the DNA match could be both a cause and effect. A DNA match can identify an unknown suspect and strengthen the evidence against a known offender. But DNA matches can also be an effect of pursuing convictions, since prosecutors who were interviewed reported that, to be thorough, they always try to introduce DNA evidence in cases they carry forward, even if the case rests mostly on other evidence. Juries expect it. (Read more about Dr. Cross’ presentation in a news release here.)

Mar 2016 / News Release    

Video: A Brief Tour of the Center's Outcome Charts Tool

Dan Phillips, the Center’s resident web developer, takes you on a short tour through the Center’s interactive Outcome Charts tool. To explore the charts for yourelf, visit the site here.



[To download this video, click here.]

Mar 2016 / Research Brief / Foster Care    

Youth Who Run Away From Substitute Care in Illinois: Frequency, Case Characteristics, and Post-Run Placements

Theodore P. Cross, Saijun Zhang, and Xinrong Lei

Significant percentages of youth in substitute care run away at some point during their stay. Running away can be a signal of distress or of difficulties adjusting to a placement. For these reasons alone it deserves attention. It could also disrupt foster care placements, place youth in risky environments, and decrease the chances that youth in care will find a permanent home. This brief reports on the frequency of running away from substitute care in Illinois and compares rates of running away by type of placement. It also explores the case characteristics that are associated with running away, and examines the types of placements that youth are placed in after returning to substitute care. Finally, it breaks new ground by analyzing how often runaway youth who return to the same type of setting nevertheless change specific caregivers and change institutions or group homes.

Feb 2016 / Report / Permanency, Safety, Well Being    

Conditions of Children in or at Risk of Foster Care in Illinois: 2014 Monitoring Report of the B.H. Consent Decree

CFRC

This annual report provides information on the performance of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services with regard to the outcomes for children who are in or at risk of substitute care. This monitoring report, required as part of the B.H. Consent Decree, examines measures of child safety, family and placement stability, continuity, permanence, and child and family well-being. Detailed break-downs of each indicator by child gender, race, age, and geographic region are provided in the appendix.

Feb 2016 / News Release    

The CFRC Newsletter for Februay 2016

In this issue: The Center’s latest monitoring report of the B.H. consent decree, an ‘Inside the CFRC’ article on the Continuous Quality Imrovement conference, an update on our Wisconsin and Oregon evaluation projects, and more!

External Link
Feb 2016 / News Release    

Video: Highlights from 2014 B.H. Consent Decree Monitoring Report

The CFRC has created a video highlighting some key areas of our latest monitoring report of the B.H. Consent Decree. You can view the video here, or download it via the link below.



[To download the video, click here.]

Jan 2016 / News Release    

2015 CQI Conference Videos & Materials Now Available

The first-ever conference of the CQI (Continuous Quality Improvement) Community, held on November 6th, included many informative presentations, all of which are available for viewing and reading on their website at the link below. 

External Link
Nov 2015 / News Release    

Center's Michael Braun Featured on University of Illinois Blog

The University’s “A Minute With” interview focuses on Dr. Braun’s research into lie detection. You can read the article at the link below.

External Link
Sep 2015 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    

When the Victim Is a Child: 30 Years of Progress for Child Victims in the Criminal Justice System

Debra Whitcomb and Theodore Cross

Prosecution of child abuse often depends on the ability of children to testify in court, but this places enormous demands on children and risks exacerbating the effects of the abuse. This presentation provides an overview of research and legal and practice development on child abuse victims in the courtroom in recent decades, and presents new survey data from prosecutors and Children's Advocacy Centers about current challenges of prosecuting child abuse and what steps professionals are taking to protect and support children in court. It was originally presented at annual conference of the Institute of Violence, Abuse and Trauma in San Diego, CA in September 2015.

Aug 2015 / News Release    

The CFRC Newsletter for August 2015

In this issue: Updates on B.H. and CERAP reports, a look at our website’s new Outcome Charts tool, new features including ‘What We’re Reading’ and ‘Comings and Goings,’ and much more!

External Link
Jul 2015 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    

DNA, Biological Evidence, Injuries and Arrests for Child and Adolescent Sexual Assault Victims with Acute Medical Examinations

Ted Cross

This presentation compares child, adolescent and adult cases receiving forensic medical examinations following sexual assault. Data come from a National Institute of Justice-funded study of 563 medical examinations conducted across Massachusetts from 2008 to 2010, which included data from medical, crime laboratory and police reports. Results suggest that adolescent victims present severe challenges that are different from those of younger victims, challenges similar to those faced by adults. Adolescents were at higher risk for injury than younger children, and for cases being dropped by police. Biological evidence was more prevalent too, which can enhance opportunities for pursuing justice but also places a premium on adolescents undergoing medical examination. The needs of the adolescents, who were as young as 12, are different from both younger children and adults, and systems and practice models have not been developed that are specifically tailored to this age group. These results could help inspire the development of enhanced models of care specifically aimed at adolescent victims of sexual assault.

Jul 2015 / News Release    

New Data Chart Tool Launched

A new tool for viewing data has just been launched on the CFRC website. The “Outcome Charts” tool—accessible within the website’s Data Center here—features a subset of our child welfare outcome indicators, along with indication rates, placement type breakdowns, and annual counts of children in and entering care. You can customize or “slice” the data however you like: Choose either line- or bar-graphs for the whole state as well as a variety of population subsets. Layer demographic (age, race, gender) and area (region, sub-region) series onto the charts to visualize change over time. Explore the Outcome Charts tool for yourself by clicking here, and feel free to let us know what you think by emailing its developer, Dan Phillips, at danzap@illinois.edu.

Jun 2015 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    

Children’s Advocacy Centers and Research: A Review of What We Have Learned and a Look to the Future

Theodore Cross and Wendy Walsh

Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) are multidisciplinary centers designed to coordinate all professionals involved in the investigative and service response to child abuse. They provide forensic child interviews with interviewers trained in best practice and a multidisciplinary team to coordinate the work of child protection, law enforcement, prosecution, health, mental health and other professionals. Over 700 CACs are providing services across all 50 states and in several foreign countries. This presentation presents an overview of research involving CACs. Several studies suggest the efficacy of CACs for improving several aspects of the response to children, and a number of important studies expanding knowledge on child maltreatment have been conducted in CACs. Several opportunities and challenges of doing research in CACs are discussed, and new results from a survey of CAC directors on Center practice are presented. This presentation was originally given at the One Child, Many Hands Multidisciplinary Conference on Child Welfare in Philadelphia in June 2015.

May 2015 / News Release    

Inaugural CQI Conference Coming in November

Join us in Urbana on November 6th, 2015 for our inaugural CQI Conference. To submit a presentation, or just to learn more about the conference, click through to the conference website.

External Link
May 2015 / Report / Child Welfare Practice, Safety    

Illinois Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol: FY2015 Annual Evaluation

Yu-ling Chiu, Martin Nieto, Satomi Wakita, and Tamara Fuller

The Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP) is a safety assessment protocol used in child protection investigations and child welfare services in Illinois. Workers utilize the protocol at specified milestones throughout the life of an investigation or child welfare case to help focus their decision-making to determine whether a child is safe or unsafe, and if unsafe, decide what actions must be taken to assure their safety. The current report examines CERAP use among placement cases in order to answer the following questions:

  1. What is the compliance rate of CERAP assessment at each of the following milestones for placement cases:
    • Within 5 working days after a worker receives a new or transferred case, when there are other children in the home of origin?
    • Every 90 calendar days from the case opening date?
    • Within 24 hours prior to return a child home?
    • Within 5 working days after a child is returned home and every month thereafter until the family case is closed?
  2. Do compliance rates vary by region?
  3. What is the relationship between the safety decision of the CERAP completed every 90 calendar days from the case opening date and reunification date?

Feb 2015 / News Release    

The CFRC Newsletter for February 2015

In this issue: ‘CFRC begins work on the Oregon Differential Response Initiative,’ ‘Evaluating Post-Reunification Services in Wisconsin,’ ‘Monitoring Critical Child Welfare Outcomes in Illinois,’ and ‘Examining Child Fatalities in Illinois.’

External Link
Jan 2015 / Presentation / Child Welfare Practice, Juvenile Delinquency    

The Developmental Trajectories of Delinquency Among Adolescent Females

Yu-Ling Chiu

Most trajectory research related to crime focuses on males and studies the offending behaviors from childhood to adulthood. Only very few studies focus on developmental trajectories of female delinquency during adolescence. Given that increasing girls appear in the juvenile justice system, given that the offending behaviors of females and males are not identical, and given that insufficient empirical studies provides good foundation to design effective interventions for delinquent girls, it is important to understand girls' offending trajectories. In order to address the needs of different types of girls in the juvenile justice system and provide suggestions of informing practice, the current study aims to answer the questions concerning how girls' offending behaviors develop over time during adolescence.

Jan 2015 / Report / Permanency, Safety, Well Being    

Conditions of Children in or at Risk of Foster Care in Illinois: 2013 Monitoring Report of the B.H. Consent Decree

CFRC

This annual report provides information on the performance of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services with regard to the outcomes for children who are in or at risk of substitute care. This monitoring report, required as part of the B.H. Consent Decree, examines measures of child safety, family and placement stability, continuity, permanence, and child and family well-being. Detailed break-downs of each indicator by child gender, race, age, and geographic region are provided in the appendix.

Nov 2014 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    

Prosecutor Assessment of the Value of Physical and Forensic Evidence in Sexual Assault Cases

Theodore Cross, Megan Alderden, Alex Wagner, Lisa Sampson, Brittany Peters, Kaitlin Lounsbury, Laura Siller

The use of forensic evidence in sexual assault cases is prominent in TV crime dramas, but no studies have examined how prosecutors actually use forensic evidence in these cases and what impact it has in trials. This presentation provides preliminary qualitative results from a mixed methods study of the role of forensic evidence in sexual assault cases in an urban district attorney's office. Assistant district attorneys were interviewed about their experience in using forensic evidence on sexual assault and their observations about when and how it can be employed to effectively prosecute these crimes. They reported that forensic evidence can be effective in a variety of ways as part of a prosecution strategy with multiple forms of evidence.

Oct 2014 / Presentation / Substance Use    

Meta-Analysis of Substance Abuse Treatment Intervention on Child Welfare Outcomes

Saijun Zhang, Hui Huang, and Meirong Liu

Substance abuse has been a serious problem among families involved in child welfare systems. Much effort has been devoted to improve caregivers' engagement and retention in substance abuse treatment programs for better child welfare outcomes, but there is a lack of systematic review to synthesize the effects of these programs. The current study identifies 7 studies and applies meta-analysis technique to examine, compare, and synthesize the program effects. The pooled sample consists of 2,876 subjects in the experimental groups, and 1,711 subjects in the control groups. The analysis generates a synthesized odds ratio of 2.29 (z=4.77. p<.0001), suggesting that on average, the odds for experimental groups to have the favorable outcome is 2.29 times as that for the control groups. This paper was presented at the 60th Annual Program Meeting of Council on Social Work Education in Tampa, FL.

Oct 2014 / News Release    

CPS Investigators Sought for Comparative Study

Illinois Child Protective Service investigators are invited to participate in a comparative study of CPS processes and decision-making in US and Korea. Please click through to the School of Social Work website for details on how to participate.

External Link
Sep 2014 / Report / Sexual Abuse and Assault    

Forensic Evidence and Criminal Justice Outcomes in a Statewide Sample of Sexual Assault Cases

Theodore P. Cross, Megan Alderden, Alexander Wagner, Lisa Sampson, Brittany Peters, Meredith Spencer, and Kaitlin Lounsbury

Biological evidence like DNA can be central to the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault, as can evaluation and documentation of injuries. But data are lacking on the actual impact of these forms of forensic evidence on the criminal justice system. Through a grant from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), CFRC researcher Theodore Cross headed a team that examined the frequency and timing of forensic evidence and its relationship to arrest in a statewide sample of cases. Most arrests took place well before crime laboratory analysis could be conducted, but DNA profiles and matches to suspects were prominent in a small set of cases in which police had access to crime laboratory results prior to arrest. The final report to NIJ that we link to here highlights these results and many others on how often and when forensic evidence is available is a wide array of different types of sexual assault cases.

Jul 2014 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    

Forensic Evidence and Sexual Assault Update

Alexander Wagner, Theodore Cross, Megan Alderden, Lisa Sampson, Brittany Peters, and Meredith Spencer

Promising methods have emerged in the last tweny years for using DNA and other biological evidence in the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault, but there is little research on how often this type of evidence is available and what role it plays in the criminal justice response to sexual research. This presentation to the Massachusetts Association of Crime Analysts is one of a series reporting findings from of a National Institute Justice-funded study on the frequeny, use and impact of forensic evidence in criminal investigations of sexual assault. Results suggests that biological evidence and DNA does not play a role in the vast majority of arrests, which are typically made soon after the incident. But DNA is very prominent in a small number of cases in which arrests are made later, after crime laboratory analysis has been conducted.

Jul 2014 / Presentation / Child Welfare Practice    

What Will Happen to This Child If I Report?: Outcomes of Reporting Child Maltreatment

Theodore Cross, Betsy Goulet, Jesse Helton, Emily Lux, and Tamara Fuller

Individuals considering reporting child maltreatment to protective services would naturally consider what would result from the report for the child and family. This could affect both their opinion about the value of reporting and their decision to report. This presentation profiles outcomes of reporting and considers the implications for understanding and improving the reporting situation. It briefly reviews research on the frequency and predictors of five different decisions: screening out, substantiation, CPS service delivery, child placement and providing differential response Then, using new analysis of national data, we profile the different decisions that are likely to be made for a hypothetical 100 cases. Findings suggest how modest the protective service response is in most cases, how much communities differ in outcomes of reporting, how much of a difference case factors like child age make, and how resources affect the profile of outcomes. Finally, this presentation discusses how understanding what outcomes of reporting are likely and what factors affect these outcomes could influence policy, practice and training regarding reporting.

Jul 2014 / Presentation / Differential Response, Program Evaluation    

Differential Response

John Fluke, Lisa Merkel-Holguin, Ying-ying Yuan, and Tamara Fuller

Presented at the 16th annual child welfare waiver demonstration project meeting in July 2014, this presentation highlights the status of Differential Response (DR) implementation in the U.S.; summarizes the results of the "first generation" of DR evaluation research on key indicators including parent engagement with CPS, child safety, and program costs; and suggests areas for the next generation of DR research.

Jul 2014 / Presentation / Program Evaluation    

The P.S. Program: Using Predictive Analytics in Program Implementation

Tamara Fuller, Theodore Cross, Vaughn Brandt, and Colleen McGroarty

As part of their Title IV-E waiver demonstration project, the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) was interested in developing a way to target post-reunification services to those families that were at highest risk of re-entry into substitute care. The CFRC used historical data to develop a predictive risk model, known as the Re-entry Prevention Model (RPM) that was implemented in each county that was part of the waiver demonstration project. The CFRC and DCF gave an overview of the RPM development and implementation process at the 16th annual child welfare waiver demonstration projects meeting, including a discussion of the lessons learned.

Jul 2014 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    

The Timing of Forensic Evidence in Sexual Assault Cases

Megan Alderden and Theodore P. Cross

This newsletter article presents a brief overview of key findings from a study of forensic evidence in sexual assault cases and its relationship to arrest, focusing particularly on the role of timing. Most arrests took place well before crime laboratory analysis could be conducted, but DNA profiles and matches to suspects were prominent in a small set of cases in which police had access to crime laboratory results prior to arrest. Readers who want to glean important knowledge from this National Institute of Justice study with a brief investment of time can seek this article from the Sexual Assault Report newsletter.

Alderden, M & Cross, T.P. (2014). The timing of forensic evidence in sexual assault cases. Sexual Assault Report, 17, 83-84.
External Link
May 2014 / Presentation / Differential Response, Program Evaluation, Safety    

Examining Outcomes of Differential Response: Results from Three Randomized Controlled Trials in Colorado, Illinois, and Ohio

Tamara Fuller, Raquel Ellis, and Julie Murphy

Jurisdictions across the country have adopted dual-track systems and there has been increasing focus on building the evidence base around this innovative approach to CPS services. In 2009, Colorado, Illinois and Ohio were selected by the National Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response in Child Protective Services (QIC-DR) to implement Differential Response and conduct rigorous, multi-year evaluations of their DR approaches. During this panel, evaluators from the three sites will discuss highlights from the outcome evaluations, focusing on outcomes related to parent perceptions of CPS and child safety. An interactive discussion of the implications of the findings for practice and future research will follow.

Feb 2014 / News Release    

The CFRC Newsletter for February 2014

In this issue: ‘CFRC Releases Differential Response Final Evaluation Report,’ ‘FY2013 B.H. Monitoring Report Now Available,’ ‘2nd Annual LGBT Research Symposium: Call for Papers and Presentations,’ and ‘LGBTQ Youth Ages 14 - 18 Sought for Participation in Survey.’

External Link
Jan 2014 / Presentation / Foster Care    

Maltreatment Histories of Foster Youth Exiting Out-of-Home Care through Emancipation: A Latent Class Analysis

Judy Havlicek

Little is known about the maltreatment experiences of youth who age out of substitute care. Their late age at entry and failed attempts at reunification may nevertheless mean prolonged exposure to child maltreatment. This study involves a secondary data analysis of state child welfare administrative data. A latent variable modeling approach is used to generate profiles of maltreatment experiences based on maltreatment reports (McCutcheon, 1987). A cohort of foster youth who reached the age of majority is selected from state administrative data based upon the following criteria: 1) In out-of-home care at age 17; 2) In care for at least 1-year; 3) Turned 18-years in out-of-home care; and 4) Entered due to child abuse/neglect. There are 801 foster youth that meet sample selection criteria, and the observation period is from FY1989-2011. All unduplicated maltreatment records are included in the analysis, including substantiated and unsubstantiated findings, and records occurring prior to and during any placement spell. Four categorical indicators of maltreatment are included in the LCA: # of different maltreatment types (1-7); Predominant type (1-3); Chronicity (1-5 developmental periods); and Number of different perpetrators (1-9). Classes are differentiated on variables not used in the classification process. Analysis of the model fit statistics and visual inspection identify a 4-class model as the best fitting solution. Study findings highlight the heterogeneity of maltreatment experiences in the lives of foster youth emancipating to adulthood from one state child welfare system. Study findings draw attention to the need to raise awareness among service providers about childhood maltreatment in older youth; to enhance research on the multiple dimensionality of maltreatment; and to develop best practices for promoting the safety of older adolescents who are without permanence. This study will be published in Child Maltreatment's upcoming special issue on emerging adulthood.

Jan 2014 / Presentation / Child Welfare Practice    

Time to Exit During the Transition to Adulthood: Who Stays and Who Leaves?

Judy Havlicek and Clark Peters

Three decades of research indicates that foster youth aging out of care are poorly prepared to make the transition to adulthood (Courtney et al., 2001; Courtney et al., 2003). They are twice as likely to be ?disconnected? from employment and education (Courtney & Dworsky, 2006), and six times more likely to experience homelessness than same-aged youth in the general population (Fowler et al., 2010). Research also suggests that foster youth who remain in substitute care past the age of majority tend to fare better than those who do not. At age 19, they are more likely to be enrolled in college (Courtney & Dworsky, 2006), to receive a mental health service (Courtney et al. 2006), and to avoid homelessness (Dworsky & Courtney, 2009). Understanding who stays and who leaves has important implications for ensuring that critical protections during the transition to adulthood reach those who are in need. The goal of this study is to examine how long young adults remain in substitute care, and the factors related to increased or decreased time to exit from care. This study involves a secondary data analysis of state child welfare administrative data. The sample includes a cohort of young people who turned 18 while in out-of-home care, who were: (1) in out-of-home care at age 17; (2) in care for at least 1year; and (3) entered substitute care due to child abuse or neglect. The outcome of interest is the first exit from substitute care that occurs past age 18. The analyses focus on the timing of exits from substitute care.

Jan 2014 / Report / Outcome Monitoring, Permanency, Safety, Well Being    

Conditions of Children in or at Risk of Foster Care in Illinois: 2012 Monitoring Report of the B.H. Consent Decree

CFRC

This annual report provides information on the performance of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services with regard to the outcomes for children who are in or at risk of substitute care. This monitoring report, required as part of the B.H. Consent Decree, examines measures of child safety, family and placement stability, continuity, permanence, and child and family well-being. Detailed break-downs of each indicator by child gender, race, age, and geographic region are provided in the appendix.

Jan 2014 / Presentation / Child Welfare Practice, Differential Response    

Inside the 'Black Box': Parent Perspectives On Differential Response in Child Protective Services

Tamara Fuller, Megan Paceley, and Jill Schreiber

Many Child Protective Services (CPS) systems have implemented Differential Response (DR) in efforts to improve child and family outcomes by providing a wider array of concrete and preventative services with a less adversarial and more supportive approach. Quantitative survey data confirms that parents who receive DR services are more engaged, receive more concrete services, and have higher overall satisfaction than those who receive a traditional investigation; yet we still have little knowledge of what occurs inside the “black box” of service provision. This qualitative study provided an in-depth analysis of parents’ perspectives of the effectiveness of the services they received through a non-investigative CPS approach.

Dec 2013 / News Release    

CFRC Site Selected for Library of Congress Archive

The United States Library of Congress has selected the CFRC website for inclusion in its web archive, a historic collection of Internet materials related to public policy topics. The Library of Congress preserves the Nation's cultural artifacts and provides enduring access to them. The Library's traditional functions, acquiring, cataloging, preserving and serving collection materials of historical importance to the Congress and the American people to foster education and scholarship, extend to digital materials, including websites. You can visit the Library's web archive at http://www.loc.gov/webarchiving.

Nov 2013 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    

The Impact of Forensic Evidence on Sexual Assault Cases

Theodore P. Cross, Megan Alderden, Alex Wagner, A., Daniel Bibel, Lisa Sampson, Brittany Peters, Saijun Zhang, and Meridith Spencer

This presentation reports on a study of the relationship between injury evidence and crime laboratory evidence and police unfounding and arrest in a statewide sample of Massachusetts sexual assault csaes. Most arrests took place rapidly--before crime laboratory analysis was conducted, but in the small number of cases in which arrests took place afterwards DNA evidence was common--suggesting the importance of DNA when probable cause cannot immediately be established. Arrests were more likely when there were injuries, though the causal relationship is unclear. Additional predictors of unfounding and arrest were identified.

Oct 2013 / News Release    

Obesity Found to Be Higher in Preschoolers Suspected of Being Maltreated

Obesity rates among preschoolers who have been investigated by child protective services for alleged maltreatment are nearly three times as high as children in the general population, a new study by researchers at the University of Illinois suggests.

External Link
Jun 2013 / News Release    

The CFRC Newsletter for June 2013

In this issue: ‘New CFRC Study Examines Families with Chronic Maltreatment,’ ‘Collecting Forensic Evidence in Child Sexual Abuse Cases,’ and ‘Post-Reunification Services to Prevent Re-entry into Substitute Care.’

External Link
May 2013 / News Release    

Study Examines Risk Factors in Recurrent Child Abuse, Neglect

The shorter the intervals between previous reports of child abuse/neglect, the greater the likelihood that the children will experience another incident within five years, suggests a new study co-written by School of Social Work researchers, from left, Saijun Zhang, Tamara Fuller and Martin Nieto in the Children and Family Research Center.

External Link
Mar 2013 / News Release    

Negative Public Images Hamper Child Welfare Investigators

Child welfare agencies struggling to increase parent engagement and counter negative stereotypes might consider enhancing social workers? communication skills and creating public service announcements, suggests a new study by Jill C. Schreiber, Tamara Fuller and Megan Paceley.

External Link
Feb 2013 / News Release    

The CFRC Newsletter for February 2013

In this issue: ‘New Research Grant Examines Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Telenursing Center,’ ‘Study Sheds Light on Engaging Parents in Child Protective Services,’ and ‘Use of Recovery Coaches Examined in CFRC Evaluation.’

External Link
Oct 2012 / News Release    

Troubled Neighborhoods Deter Some Fathers from Child Involvement

Environmental factors such as crime and poverty rates in the neighborhood where children live influence nonresident fathers' engagement with their children, suggests a new study by the Center's Saijun Zhang and Tamara Fuller.

External Link
Oct 2012 / News Release    

The CFRC Newsletter for October 2012

In this issue: ‘The Illinois Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being,’ ‘Infants and Toddlers In the Child Welfare System Face Developmental Problems,’ ‘Food Issues a New Area of Concern for Child Welfare,’ and ‘Abused and Neglected Children at a High Risk for Unhealthy Weight.’

External Link
Jun 2012 / News Release    

The CFRC Newsletter for June 2012

In this issue: ‘2012 Illinois Family Impact Seminar Focuses on Differential Response,’ ‘CFRC Partners with Lawrence Hall Youth Services to Receive Grant,’ and ‘CFRC Sponsors Family Reunion for Former Youth in Care.’

External Link
May 2012 / News Release    

CFRC's Jesse Helton Receives CLOCC Grant

The CFRC's Jesse Helton recently received notification that funding for his Healthy Agencies, Healthy Kids initiative was accepted by the Seed Grant Program at the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC). This program is designed to help investigators and organizations develop programs and research efforts to the point at which they should be able to obtain funding from outside sources. Seed grants are awarded twice a year and run for 18 months. The goals of Dr. Helton's project are twofold: (1) evaluate the creation and implementation of a Wellness Council at Lawrence Hall Youth Services in Chicago, a residential treatment facility specializing in caring for children and adolescents with severe emotional and behavioral challenges due to trauma, abuse and neglect; and (2) create a foster care agency assessment tool appropriate for child welfare agency organizations caring for children and youth with these challenges. The Wellness Council will consist of agency administrators, agency staff (including nurses, food service workers, custodians, teachers, and therapists), youth in care, foster families, biological families, and staff from a local hospital. Their overall mission is to advise Lawrence Hall Youth Services agency administration and board on school, foster care, and community health issues by identifying both student and staff health (including nutrition and physical activity) needs.

May 2012 / News Release    

CFRC's Judge Kathleen Kearney Receives William D. Reynolds Award from Notre Dame

Established in 1985, the William D. Reynolds Award is conferred on a University of Notre Dame alumnus/ alumna (living or deceased) doing exceptional work with youth for the betterment of quality of life. With this award, Judge Kathleen A. Kearney '77 S.M.C., '80 J.D. is honored for three decades of work on behalf of abused and neglected children.

Judge Kearney graduated from Saint Mary's College in 1977 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science and was awarded a certificare in Soviet arid East European Studies from Notre Dame that same year. She served as a resident assistant and assistant rector in Farley Hall while attending Notre Dame Law School. Her interest in the field of child welfare was sparked while working as the director of the Notre Dame Legal Aid and Defender Association.

She took an unpaid internship to live and work in a shelter for abused children sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy in Rochester, N.Y., following her second year of law school. The experience led to a life dedicated to protecting vulnerable children and youth.

Following graduation, she began her legal career as staff attorney for a child advocacy organization until joining the State Attorney's Office in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as a sex crimes and child abuse prosecutor in 1981. She was appointed to the bench in 1988 and served as a juvenile court judge for more than a decade. During her tenure, she chaired Florida's Dependency Court Improvement Program, served on the faculty of both the Florida Judicial College and the College of Advanced Judicial Studies, and led the state's first judicial mentoring program.

Former governor Jeb Bush appointed her as secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) in 1998. She was the first woman and judge to be appointed to serve in this capacity.

Following her tenure at DCF, she joined the faculty of Florida State University's College of Social Work, where she taught and advised doctoral and master's students in social welfare policy and administration. She was awarded the College of Social Work's "Professor of the Year" award each year she was there. In 2007, Judge Kearney joined the Children and Family Research Center of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she is appointed as a clinical professor and senior researcher. Judge Kearney is the proud aunt of 14 nieces and nephews. She serves on the boards of the American Association of Children's Residential Centers and Capital City Youth Services, is a past recipient of the Notre Dame Club of Fort Lauderdale Alumni of the Year Award, and has been a member of the Law Advisory Council for the Notre Dame Law School since her appointment in 1989.

Judge Kearney offers these words of thanks:

"I am so honored to be receiving this award from the Alumni Association. I firmly believe that 'God puts you where you need to be,' and that He led me to the Notre Dame-Saint Mary's community for a reason. It was here that my passion for social justice was sparked. The friends I made here remain a constant and supportive presence in my life to this day. I am particularly honored to be this year's recipient because of my deep love and devotion to the late Sister Jean Lenz, O.S.F., '67 M.A., who received this award in 1991. Her impact on thousands of young men and women was profound and deep. It is in her memory that I gratefully accept this award in honor of all alumni who work on behalf of abused and neglected children and youth."

Apr 2012 / News Release    

The CFRC Newsletter for April 2012

In this issue: ‘llinois Differential Response Evaluation Releases First Report,’ ‘Research Explores the Link Between Community Violence and Aggressive Child Behavior,’ ‘The Foster Care Utilization Review Program (FCURP),’ and ‘CFRC Highlights.’

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Jan 2012 / News Release    

CFRC Releases Report on DCFS Performance

The CFRC is pleased to announce the release of the Conditions of Children in or at Risk of Foster Care in Illinois: 2010 Monitoring Report of the B.H. Consent Decree. Each year since 1998, the CFRC has produced an annual report documenting the performance of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in providing adequate care to children in foster care. The report provides multi-year data on indicators of repeat maltreatment, continuity with family members and community, placement stability, placement restrictiveness, length of time in foster care, and the achievement of permanence through reunification with birth parents, adoption, and guardianship. The report also includes a chapter that examines Child Well-Being that provides an in-depth look at mental health service need and service receipt among children in substantiated investigations. This year's report has been significantly updated to improve the readability and usefulness of the data to a variety of consumers - including child welfare workers, researchers, and policy-makers.

Jan 2012 / News Release    

The CFRC Newsletter for January 2012

This debut issue of the newsletter includes: ‘CFRC Releases Report on DCFS Performance,’ ‘Evaluating Differential Response in Illinois,’ and ‘CFRC Receives Grant to Reduce Childhood Obesity Among Foster Children.’

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Dec 2011 / News Release    

Parental Response to Sexual Abuse Varies by Age of Victim and Suspect, Study Finds

A new study co-written by Ted Cross, a faculty member in the School of Social Work, indicated that child victims of sexual abuse are less likely to receive parental support when the alleged perpetrator is an adolescent rather than an adult.

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Nov 2011 / News Release    

CFRC Researcher Theodore Cross Funded to Study Forensic Evidence in Sexual Assault Cases

The CRFC's Theodore Cross recently was funded by the National Institute of Justice to study the frequency and impact of forensic evidence in sexual assault cases. Forensic evidence in sexual assault cases can corroborate victim reports, help criminal justice professionals prove that assault occurred, particularly for child victims, and identify unknown suspects through DNA matching. But we know surprisingly little about how common forensic evidence is in these cases and what impact it has on criminal justice outcomes. Dr. Cross' research team will work with public agencies in Massachusetts to combine information from data bases on health care providers' examinations of victims, crime lab analysis of sexual assault evidence kits, and police records of arrests and criminal charges. The study will examine how often different types of forensic evidence are available (e.g., blood samples, saliva samples), at what point in the case the evidence becomes available, and how much it increases the chances of an arrest and criminal charge. Additional questions include whether forensic evidence has a greater impact in child or adult victim cases, and whether the evidence and its impact are greater if specialized nurses called Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) conduct the forensic medical examinations. The results will provide new knowledge to help improve the effectiveness of systems collecting and using forensic evidence. Dr. Cross, an authority on the criminal justice response to child sexual abuse; will partner with Dr. Megan Alderden of St. Xavier University in Chicago, an expert on prosecution of adult sexual assault; and Alex Wagner of the Center for Leadership in Public Service at Fisher College in Boston, a specialist on Massachusetts public safety databases. The 18-month project begins January 2012.

Jul 2011 / News Release    

CFRC Researcher Jesse Helton Receives Grant from Food and Family Program

The CFRC's Jesse Helton recently received funding for his Fostering Health and Nutrition program. The proposal was accepted by the University of Illinois Family Resiliency Center's Food and Family Program (supported by the Christopher Family Foundation). The genesis of this grant was from caregiver reported estimates of child weight and height from the Illinois Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (ISCAW) that indicates children in Illinois foster are at an increased risk for childhood obesity. The abstract for the study follows.

Childhood obesity has now been established as a major public health concern. There are currently many efforts underway to prevent obesity and promote healthy eating and exercise for most of the U.S. child population. However, children in foster care are overlooked in epidemiological studies and evidence-based intervention strategies. This omission is curious considering the evidence that children who have a history of sexual abuse, physical neglect, and childhood trauma are at risk for obesity. These abused and traumatized children, once placed in foster care, may be vulnerable to many of the environmental and familial risk factors for obesity that families living in poverty endure. Moreover, foster families may be at an even higher risk for sustaining child obesity rates due to additional challenges not faced in the general public: caring for traumatized children with emotional and behavioral problems, caring for a greater number of children than the average family, and child feelings of isolation that comes with integrating into a new home away from birth parents. No intervention to date has attempted to respond to these unique needs.

Therefore, the overall aim of Fostering Health and Nutrition will be to develop and pilot a culturally sensitive health and nutritional program for foster parents and preschool aged children in the state of Illinois. Preschool aged children and their foster families are targeted to intervene during a period of child development when eating habits and activity choices are being established. The study approach will be to target family-level factors affecting poor nutrition and exercise and develop new programs to increase family consumption of fruits and vegetables, decrease the consumption of energy dense foods, improve nutritional education, improve family cohesion and foster youth integration into family, and decrease youth emotional and behavioral problems.

Apr 2011 / News Release    

Child Abuse Risk Tied to Type, Degree of Disability, Study Finds

Researchers have long known that children with disabilities are at increased risk of being abused by their caregivers. But a groundbreaking new study by Jesse Helton, a faculty member in the Children and Family Research Center in the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois, indicates that the risk and degree of physical abuse varies according to the child's type and level of disability -- and those at greatest risk of maltreatment may be those with average functioning or only mild impairments.

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Apr 2011 / News Release    

Illinois a Leader in Providing Early Learning Programs to At-Risk Children

Illinois leads other states in the U.S. in ensuring that at-risk young children are provided with early childhood education, according to a new study by a researcher in the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois.

The study, led by Theodore P. Cross, a research professor in the Children and Family Research Center, was based on data from the Illinois Study of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, which is part of a national study that comprises information from child welfare investigations conducted between March 2008 and January 2009. The Illinois data set included 818 substantiated maltreatment cases investigated by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Substantiated cases also were extracted from the national study, which spanned more than 5,000 substantiated and unsubstantiated cases across 36 states.

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