Publications


Nov 2018 / Presentation / Outcomes Monitoring    
 

Highlights from the FY2018 Monitoring Report of the B.H. Consent Decree

Tamara Fuller, Steve Tran, Yu-Ling Chiu, and Michael Braun

The highlights of each chapter from the FY2018 Monitoring Report of the B.H. Consent Decree.

Nov 2018 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring    
 

FY2018 Disproportionality and Disparity Report

Tamara Fuller, Yu-Ling Chiu, Michael Braun, Martin Nieto, and Kyle Adams

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 and disparity at critical decision points to help inform planning and decision making.This report provides information relevant to that goal by examining racial disproportionality and disparity in the Illinois child welfare system at five critical decision points over the past seven years.

Oct 2018 / Report / Safety and Risk    
 

FY2018 Program Evaluation of the Child Protection Training Academy for New DCFS Investigators

Ted Cross and Yu-Ling Chiu

The current report presents results from program evaluation activities conducted in FY2018. We used interviews and focus groups to explore the processes through which CPTA has an impact. In addition, we assessed the impact of CPTA on the experience of working DCFS investigators. We surveyed DCFS investigators and compared those investigators who have received simulation training with a group of investigators who had not received simulation training.

Oct 2018 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring    
 

Conditions of Children in or at Risk of Foster Care in Illinois: FY2018 Monitoring Report of the B.H. Consent Decree

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

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. This year’s report contains several major changes that makes the results non-comparable to those in previous reports. The data source was switched from the Chapin Hall Integrated Database (IDB) to data contained in the DCFS data warehouse (Legacy Golden Copy/LGC). At the Department’s request, the Round 3 CFSR statewide data indicators were added to the report. The FY2018 monitoring report uses child welfare administrative data through March 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 three chapters that examine critical child welfare outcomes of child safety, continuity and stability in care, and legal permanence.

Aug 2018 / Research Brief / Safety and Risk    
 

Understanding Safety Assessment in Illinois: The Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP)

Yu-Ling Chiu and Tamara L. Fuller

The Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP) is a safety assessment protocol used in child protection investigations and child welfare services in Illinois. It is designed to provide workers with a mechanism for quickly assessing the potential for moderate to severe harm to a child in the immediate or near future and for taking quick action to protect children. Workers utilize the protocol at specified time frames throughout the life of a case, from child protection investigation to substitute care exit, to help focus their decision-making to determine whether a child is safe or unsafe with their family, and if unsafe, decide what actions must be taken to assure the child’s safety. This brief provides an overview of the CERAP, including its historical background and the specific procedures required to complete the assessments.

Aug 2018 / Research Brief / Safety and Risk    
 

Understanding Safety Assessment in Illinois: CERAP Completion in Intact Family Services

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

The Child Endangerment Risk Assessment Protocol (CERAP) is a safety assessment protocol used in child protection investigations and child welfare service cases in Illinois. It is designed to provide workers with a mechanism for quickly assessing the potential for moderate to severe harm to a child in the immediate or near future and for taking quick action to protect children. Workers utilize the protocol at specified time frames, referred to as “milestones,” throughout the life of a case to help focus their decision-making to determine whether a child is safe or unsafe with their family, and if unsafe, decide what actions must be taken to assure the child’s safety. In FY2018, due to increased scrutiny of the safety of children served in intact family cases, the CFRC completed an analysis of caseworker compliance with safety assessment procedures among intact family cases. This research brief describes the major findings of the FY2018 CERAP annual evaluation.

Aug 2018 / Research Brief / Safety and Risk    
 

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 and Risk    
 

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 / Safety and Risk    
 

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.

Jun 2018 / Journal Publication / Sexual Abuse and Assault    

Prosecutors’ Perspectives on Biological Evidence and Injury Evidence in Sexual Assault Cases

Megan Alderden, Theodore Cross, Maja Vlajnic, and Laura Siller

Little prior research has explored how prosecutors perceive and utilize biological and injury evidences in sexual assault cases. In this qualitative study, semistructured interviews were conducted with assistant district attorneys (ADAs) working in an urban district attorney’s office in the northeastern United States. ADAs were asked to describe how biological and injury evidences could be probative and their strategies for using this evidence. The interviews suggest that prosecutors perceive the probative value of biological and injury evidences on a continuum, varying based on case characteristics. Prosecutors felt that undergoing a forensic medical examination in itself supported victims’ credibility. Biological evidence bolstered victims’ credibility if it matched the victim’s account better than the defendant’s. They perceived DNA evidence as helpful when it identified unknown suspects, confirmed identification of suspects by other means, or rebutted defendants’ denial of sexual contact. DNA evidence was also helpful when victims were incapacitated, too traumatized to recall or talk about the assault, or too young to identify assailants, and when police used the information in interrogating suspects. The biggest limitation to biological evidence prosecutors cited was overcoming the consent defense. The ADAs reported they used DNA evidence even when it was not particularly probative, because it confirms the correct person is being prosecuted, it communicates the victim’s and prosecution’s seriousness, and it meets jury expectations in trials. Prosecutors found injury evidence useful because it corroborated victims’ accounts and helped refute defendant claims of consensual sex. The findings may assist in educating others about biological and injury evidences in these cases, and could inspire professionals and advocates to work to develop and support a broad range of investigative methods.

Alderden, M., Cross, T., Vlajnic, M., & Siller, L. (2018). Prosecutors’ perspectives on biological evidence and injury evidence in sexual assault cases. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 1–23
 External Link
Apr 2018 / Journal Publication    

How Often and in What Circumstances Does Law Enforcement Investigate in Child Protection Cases?

Theodore Cross, Emmeline Chuang, Jesse Helton, Seth Boughton, and Emily Lux

Few disagree that child maltreatment can sometimes be a crime; for example, with most sexual offenses or when physical abuse or serious neglect leads to major child injury or death. Yet we would probably not want the police involved when child protective services (CPS) contacts a family because of reports that children were hungry and ill-clothed at school, or in similar cases. Professional publications have disagreed about the value of a criminal justice response versus a purely therapeutic or family court approach to child maltreatment (Harshbarger, 1987; Levesque, 1995; Newberger, 1987; Peters, Dinsmore, & Toth, 1989). But we know little about how often police investigate in CPS cases and in what circumstances.

Cross, T., Chuang, E., Helton, J., Boughton, S., & Lux, E. (2018). How often and in what circumstances does law enforcement investigate in child protection cases? Child Welfare 360 Degrees, Spring 2018.
 External Link
Mar 2018 / Presentation / Child and Family Well-Being, Outcomes Monitoring, Safety and Risk    

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.

 External Link
Feb 2018 / Journal Publication    

Food Neglect and Infant Development

Jesse Helton, Theodore Cross, Michael Vaughn, and Tatiana Gochez‐Kerr

The impact of food insecurity on child development in the general U.S. population is well-established, yet little is known about the harm of food neglect relative to other types of maltreatment. Due to the harmful physiological impact of inadequate nutrients and the social impact of food-related stress, it was hypothesized that food neglect would be more likely to impair infant cognitive and language development than physical abuse, sexual abuse, and other forms of neglect. Families of infants (N = 1,951) investigated by Child Protective Services were studied using the second cohort of the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW II; NSCAW Research Group, 2002). Results from multivariable logistic regression models that controlled for likely confounding variables showed that the odds of impairment in cognition and language were significantly greater when food neglect was the most serious form of maltreatment. Considering that both food insecurity and child neglect are associated with poverty and parental mental health problems, it will be important for child welfare and mental health professionals to work collaboratively to better the health of these vulnerable children.

Helton, J., Cross, T., Vaughn, M., & Gochez‐Kerr, T. (2018). Food neglect and infant development. Infant Mental Health Journal, 39(2), 231-241.
 External Link
Feb 2018 / Research Brief / Safety and Risk  
 

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.

Jan 2018 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring, Safety and Risk    
 

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.




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