Publications


Nov 2019 / Research Brief / Child and Family Well-Being, Outcomes Monitoring, Safety and Risk  
 

Five Findings from the 2019 B.H. Monitoring Report

Children and Family Research Center

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is responsible for assuring the safety, family permanency, and well-being of the children who have been investigated for abuse or neglect or who have been removed from their homes and placed into substitute care. For over two decades, the Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) has produced an annual monitoring report that tracks the performance of the Illinois child welfare system on over 40 different measures of safety, placement restrictiveness, placement stability, and timely, stable, and permanent family relationships. The full report, which is available on the CFRC website, examines each measure over the past seven years and provides detailed tables and figures that examine differences among child age and racial groups. This brief highlights five noteworthy findings from the most recent report, which tracks performance through June 2018.

Oct 2019 / Research Brief / Child and Family Well-Being    
 

Children in Out-of-Home Care and their Contact with Siblings: Findings from 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study

Ted Cross, Aide Hernandez, and Steve Tran

Children’s relationships with their siblings may be the one source of familial love that they can count on when they are placed in out-of-home care. Yet, placement in out-of-home care can separate children from their siblings. Illinois state law requires siblings who are in out-of-home care to be placed together whenever it is in their best interest and not in violation of other rules of the Department of Children and Family Services. This brief presents findings from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study on siblings of children in out-of-home care.. The study conducted interviews with caseworker, caregivers and children themselves to assess the well-being of a sample of 700 children in out-of-home care in the state. Many children in out-of-home care were placed with siblings, but a number of children had siblings in other placements, especially if there were three or more siblings in the family. Often children had limited contact with their siblings and wished for more interaction with them. These findings suggest the need for more progress to enable siblings in out-of-home care to live together and to strengthen the connections between siblings who must live apart.

Oct 2019 / Research Brief / Child and Family Well-Being    
 

Child Development of Children in DCFS Care: Findings from 2017 Illinois Child Well- Being Study

Steve Tran, Ted Cross, and Aide Hernandez

National research indicates that children in out-of-home care because of abuse or neglect are at significant risk for developmental difficulties, but to date we have limited information on the development of children in out-of-home care in Illinois. This brief presents findings on child development from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study. The study conducted interviews with caseworker, caregivers and children themselves to assess the well-being of a sample of 700 children in out-of-home care in the state. On a caregiver checklist, more than one-fifth of young children had scores on a caregiver checklist that indicated possible developmental delay or a level of developmental risk that needed to be monitored, but many of these children were not receiving a developmental intervention. Children’s likelihood of receiving a development intervention they needed differed by type of placement and by region. These finding indicate the need to develop a better understanding of what developmental interventions children in out-of-home care receive and the obstacles that keep children from receiving the help they need.

Oct 2019 / Research Brief / Child and Family Well-Being    
 

Findings From the 2017 Illinois Child Well- Being Study

Ted Cross, Aide Hernandez, and Steve Tran

An infographic presenting some of the major findings from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study.

Oct 2019 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring    
 

Conditions of Children in or at Risk of Foster Care in Illinois: FY2019 Monitoring Report of the B.H. Consent Decree

Tamara Fuller, Martin Nieto, Shufen Wang, Kyle A. Adams III, Satomi Wakita, Steve Tran, Yu-Ling Chiu, Michael Braun, Theodore P. Cross, Laura Lee, Aaron Burnett, Heidi Meyer

Since its inception in 1996, the Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) has produced an annual report that monitors the performance of the Illinois child welfare system in achieving its stated goals of child safety, permanency, and well-being. The FY2019 monitoring report uses child welfare administrative data through December 31, 2018 to describe the conditions of children in or at risk of foster care in Illinois. Following an introductory chapter, the results are presented in five chapters that examine critical child welfare outcomes, including child safety, continuity and stability in care, legal permanence, racial disproportionality, and child well-being.

Oct 2019 / Research Brief / Child and Family Well-Being    
 

The Safety of Children in DCFS Care: Findings from 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study

Ted Cross, Aide Hernandez, and Steve Tran

Children are placed in out-of-home care through the Illinois Department of Children and Family services to protect their safety, so it especially important to assess their safety while in substitute care. This brief presents findings on child safety from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study. The study conducted interviews with caseworker, caregivers and children themselves to assess the well-being of a sample of 700 children in out-of-home care in the state. Substantial proportions of children in out-of-home care have witnessed and/or experienced violence in their life, but children and youth were much less likely to experience threats to their safety in their current placement. Substantial proportion of older adolescents and youth in group homes and residential treatment reported by physically hurt by someone in the past year. Overall, these findings suggest that placement in out-of-home care leads to greater safety. But continued vigilance about children’s safety is still needed, particularly for older adolescents and youth in group homes and residential treatment.

Oct 2019 / Research Brief / Child and Family Well-Being    
 

The Education of Children in DCFS Care: Findings from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study

Aide Hernandez, Steve Tran, and Ted Cross

Children placed in out-of-home care because of abuse or neglect often have cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and health problems that can make it difficult to succeed at school. But we have limited data on the educational well-being of Illinois children in out-of-home care through the Department of Children and Family Services. This brief presents findings on education from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study. The study conducted interviews with caseworker, caregivers and children themselves to assess the well-being of a sample of 700 children in out-of-home care in the state. Most children and youth were was performing adequately or better in school, but many children faced obstacles to school success. The brief presents an overview of results and discusses the need for increased efforts to help children in out-of-home care with their education.

Sep 2019 / Report / Testing Innovative Child and Family Programs    
 

FY2019 Program Evaluation of the Child Protection Training Academy for New DCFS Investigators

Yu-Ling Chiu and Theodore P. Cross

The FY2019 evaluation report of CPTA's simulation training included the following sections: 1) description of CPTA's updated training model; 2) daily experience of simulation training (DEST) that measured trainees’ daily changes in confidence on thirteen child protection work skills over the course of the simulation training week; 3) post-training satisfaction survey regarding trainees’ experience of the certificate training ; 4) simulation training and investigator turnover using DCFS employment data. The findings show that the positive results over three years of the program evaluation support the value of CPTA and suggest the potential of its current expansion. It is encouraging that investigators hired since February 2016 are staying on the job longer than investigators hired prior to that date. Data can be used both to advocate for the value of CPTA and to inform efforts at program improvement.

Aug 2019 / Report / Safety and Risk    
 

Illinois Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol FY2019 Annual Evaluation

Tamara L. Fuller, Satomi Wakita, Yu-Ling Chiu, Martin Nieto, and Laura Lee

CERAP procedures specify when a safety assessment is supposed to be completed during investigations, prevention services cases, intact family service cases, and placement cases. Recent CERAP evaluations have focused on caseworker completion at each of the milestones for intact family cases, with the exception of milestone three, which specifies that the a safety assessment should be completed “whenever evidence or circumstances suggest that a child’s safety may be in jeopardy.” The FY2019 CERAP evaluation focused on CERAP safety assessments that were completed for this milestone three among intact family cases that were opened during 2014-2018. The main findings revealed that between 8-10% of the intact family cases opened each year had a CERAP completed for this milestone (MS3). When a MS3 CERAP was completed, about 36% did not have any safety threats identified, about 40-45% had one safety threat identified, and 16-17% had two safety threats identified. Additional analyses are included in the report.

Aug 2019 / Presentation / Testing Innovative Child and Family Programs    
 

Using Simulation Training to Teach Child Protection Investigators in Illinois-Program Evaluation of the Child Protection Training Academy (CPTA)

Yu-Ling Chiu, Theodore P. Cross, Betsy P. Goulet, Susan Oppegard Evans, and Monico Whittington-Eskridge

The CFRC evaluation team collaborated with the CPTA at the University of Illinois Springfield and the DCFS Office of Learning & Professional Development on a presentation at the 2019 National Child Welfare Evaluation Summit on August 20th. The presentation included discussion of the CPTA simulation training model, the main evaluation findings between 2017 and 2019, and the simulation training expansion at the Chicago site.

Jun 2019 / Report / Child and Family Well-Being    
 

2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study

Ted Cross, Steve Tran, Aide Hernandez, and Emily Rhodes

The 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study provides a snapshot of the well-being of children and youth in out-of-home care in Illinois in 2017. The Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) drew a stratified random sample of 700 children and youth from the population of children and youth in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in October 2017. The Survey Research Laboratory of the University of Illinois at Chicago conducted interviews with caseworkers, foster care providers, and children age seven and older between December 2017 and July 2018. Interviews included questions developed for the study as well as a number of standardized scales measuring child functioning and well-being.

The report documents the progress many children and youth are making, but also the disproportionate number of children who lag in development, deal with physical and behavioral health challenges, struggle in school, or face threats to their safety. The well-being data can be used to advocate for children’s needs, inform the development of DCFS policy and practice, and guide in-depth well-being research.

Jun 2019 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring    
 

An Analysis of Child Deaths and Intact Family Services

Martin Nieto, Satomi Wakita, Tamara Fuller, and Shufen Wang

In 2017, media attention in Illinois focused on a perceived increase in the number of child deaths following the “privatization” of Intact Family Services (IFS), meaning that cases were being served by private child welfare agencies through contractual relationships with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) rather than through DCFS itself. Following a request by the B.H. Expert Panel, the CFRC conducted an independent analysis to examine if the privatization of intact family services (IFS) was associated with an increase in child deaths due to maltreatment. The results suggest that Intact Family Services have been provided by both DCFS and private child welfare agencies since 2000, and that complete privatization of IFS did not occur, even after 2014. In addition, when all maltreatment reports involving child deaths are examined, only a small percentage (between 10-15%) have been involved with IFS within the past year or at the time of the reported death. When the child deaths that were involved with IFS were examined, there were no differences in the risk of either investigated child deaths or indicated child deaths among children served by DCFS and those served by private child welfare agencies.

May 2019 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring    
 

Racial Disproportionality for Children Age 0 to 5 in Illinois

CFRC

Child welfare systems across the nation share the concern that children from some racial minority groups may be disproportionately represented in the child welfare system compared to their representation in the general population. One of the goals in the Department’s Child Welfare Transformation Strategic Plan is to track racial equity at critical decision points to help inform planning and decision making. With special concerns about children age 0 to 5, the Children and Family Research Center per a request from Illinois DCFS prepared this report by examining racial disproportionality specifically for this population in the Illinois child welfare system at critical decision points during 2012-2018.

Apr 2019 / Presentation / Testing Innovative Child and Family Programs    
 

Assessing an Innovative Method for Training Child Protection Investigators

Betsy Goulet, Theodore Cross, Yu-Ling Chiu

Presentation at the One Loud Voice Conference in Biloxi Mississippi, April 16, 2019

Mar 2019 / Presentation / Sexual Abuse and Assault    
 

The Role of Forensic Evidence in Arrest and Prosecution of Sexual Assault Cases

Ted Cross and Megan Alderden

Presented in Urbana at the Carle Hospital SANE Seminar, March 11, 2019.

Jan 2019 / Presentation    
 

Feedback from Families and Multidisciplinary Team Members at Children’s Advocacy Centers: Are there Differences Across Groups?

Wendy Walsh, Ted Cross, and Kaitlin Lounsbury

Presented at the 34th Annual San Diego International Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment, January 29, 2019.

Jan 2019 / Presentation    
 

CAC Research: New Developments & Remaining Needs

Ted Cross and Wendy Walsh

Presented at the 34th Annual San Diego International Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment, January 29, 2019.

Jan 2019 / Presentation / Testing Innovative Child and Family Programs    
 

Assessing an Innovative Method for Training Child Protection Investigators

Yu-Ling Chiu, Theodore Cross, Betsy Goulet, Susan Oppegard Evans, Monico Whittington-Eskridge, and Amy Wheeler

The investigator survey results in the second year evaluation of the Child Protection Training Academy’s Simulation Program were presented on January 20th, 2019 at the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) Annual Conference in San Francisco.

Jan 2019 / Journal Publication    

Families’ Experience of Pediatric Onset Multiple Sclerosis

Ted Cross, Alane Shanks, Lisa Duffy, and David Rintell

This study interviewed parents to understand families’ experience with pediatric onset multiple sclerosis (POMS), which make up 2.7% to 10.5% of all MS cases. 21 sets of parents of children with a confirmed diagnosis of POMS were recruited from two pediatric MS centers. Families experienced stress from the uncertainty prior to diagnosis, anxiety over symptoms and possible progression of the disease, frustrations with the uncertain effects of disease-modifying treatments (DMTs), and difficulties with injections. Families had to cope with cognitive and physical effects of POMS at school, decisions about expectations and independence for the child, and extra demands POMS placed on the family. Most parents reported benefitting from support from physicians, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the MS community. Families had benefitted from DMTs, and, despite the stresses, most had adapted successfully to the illness. Advice from interviewees to other parents and recommendations for improving family support are presented.

Cross, T., Shanks, A., Duffy, L., & Rintell, D. (2019). Families’ experience of pediatric onset multiple sclerosis. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, https://doi.org/10.1007/s40653-018-0243-7.
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