Oct 2021 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring    

Racial Disproportionality In the Illinois Child Welfare System: FY2021 Report

Tamara Fuller, Cady Landa, Satomi Wakita, and Kyle Adams

Child welfare systems across the nation share the concern that children from some racial and ethnic groups may be disproportionately represented in the child welfare system compared to their representation in the general population. This report examines racial disproportionality in the Illinois child welfare system at five critical decision points during 2014–2020, including: 1) screened-in maltreatment reports/investigations, 2) protective custodies, 3) indicated maltreatment reports, 4) child welfare case openings (intact family services), 5) substitute care entries, and 6) timely exits from substitute care. The results are presented for the entire state as well as by region.

Oct 2021 / Report / Outcomes Monitoring    

Conditions of Children in or at Risk of Foster Care in Illinois: FY2021 Monitoring Report of the B.H. Consent Decree

Tamara Fuller, Martin Nieto, Kyle Adams, Yu-Ling Chiu, Theodore Cross, Cady Landa, Laura Lee, Steve Tran, Satomi Wakita, and Shufen Wang

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 FY2021 monitoring report uses child welfare administrative data through December 31, 2020 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.

Sep 2021 / Journal Publication    

Mississippi's Experience Implementing a Statewide Child Advocacy Studies Training (CAST) Initiative

Ted Cross and Yu-Ling Chiu

In response to a national deficit in education about child maltreatment, colleges and universities throughout the United States provide Child Advocacy Studies Training (CAST) courses and CAST certificate or minor programs to educate undergraduate and graduate students in child maltreatment. This article reports results from an implementation evaluation of Mississippi’s CAST Initiative, the first effort to implement CAST courses and programs in colleges and universities throughout a state. Through interviews with administrators and faculty implementing CAST in Mississippi, we provide a brief history of the initiative, review the initial development of CAST courses and programs, discuss considerations related to the program’s implementation, and report faculty’s plans for the future of CAST. Our evaluation provides evidence that the implementation of Mississippi’s CAST initiative has had considerable success and has good prospects for enduring. Our findings also expand knowledge about the contextual issues involved in implementation, point to the value of strong partnerships between CAST colleges and universities and community organizations, and identify some considerations connected to expanding enrollment in CAST. Copies of the article are available from the first author at

Cross, T.P. & Chiu, Y. (2021). Mississippi’s experience implementing a statewide Child Advocacy Studies Training (CAST) initiative. Journal of Family Trauma, Child Custody & Child Development. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/26904586.2021.1951418
Sep 2021 / Report / Simulation Training Evaluation    

FY2021 Program Evaluation of the Child Protection Training Academy for New DCFS Investigators

Ted Cross, Yu-Ling Chiu, Shufen Wang, Laura Lee, Steve Tran, and Kirsten Havig

In FY2021, the Children and Family Research Center’s (CFRC) evaluation team again used multiple sub-studies to examine the implementation and outcomes of simulation training for new child protection investigators in the Illinois Department of Children and Family Service. This is an important time historically to study simulation training because of the effect of COVID-19 on trainees, their work and the training itself. Chapter 1 summarizes CTPA’s implementation in 2021: adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic through virtual methods, training supervisors in problem-based learning, and re-formatting investigator training. Chapter 2 presents results from the Daily Experience of Simulation Training (DEST) measure. The measure was designed to examine change in trainees’ confidence over the course of simulation training. This is an important time to assess DEST results, because of changes in simulation training during FY2021, as discussed in the Introduction. Chapter 3 offers updated results from a post-training satisfaction survey. The chapter reports trainees’ satisfaction ratings for simulation training over this time period. It also provides qualitative results from the analysis of open-ended items in the post-training satisfaction survey. Chapter 4 examines whether simulation training is related to employee turnover. Using two different analytic methods, it asks whether investigators trained using simulation training have stayed in their jobs longer than investigators who were not provided simulation training. Chapter 5 examines the relationship of simulation training to child safety. We compared sim-trained and non-sim-trained investigators on the likelihood that children in their investigations were involved in re-reports to DCFS. The last chapter provides the conclusion of this year’s evaluation and recommendations for improving the program.

Aug 2021 / Research Brief / Safety and Risk    

Examining Child Deaths in Illinois: Highlights from the FY2021 Child Death Review Team Annual Report

Steve Tran and Tamara Fuller

This research brief highlights the findings from the most recent CDRT annual report on child deaths that occurred in Illinois in 2019. The brief presents summary information about child deaths in Illinois by age, race, and by the category and manner of death, as well as examples of CDRT recommendations to prevent child deaths.

Aug 2021 / Research Brief / Safety and Risk    

Trends in Illinois Child Deaths Between 2010 and 2019

Steve Tran and Tamara Fuller

This research brief uses data from the annual CDRT reports to examine trends in child deaths between 2010 and 2019. The brief describes trends in total child deaths by child age, manner and category of death, as well as programs and initiatives in the state to prevent and reduce child deaths.

Aug 2021 / Research Brief / Safety and Risk    

Infant Deaths During Sleep in 2019

Steve Tran and Bernadette Emery

Many of the reviews conducted by the Illinois Child Death Review Teams (CDRTs) involve unsafe sleep, and for the past several years they have has sought to bring increased attention to infant deaths due to unsafe sleep. The Illinois Child Death Review conducted a detailed examination of these deaths by child race/ethnicity, gender, age, sleeping position, and the locations and environments of the deaths. This brief highlights the findings of these analyses.

Mar 2021 / Research Brief / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    

Another Look at the Resilience of Children and Youth in DCFS Care: New Findings from the 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study

Steve Tran, Soonhyung Kwon, and Theodore Cross

The 2017 Illinois Child Well-Being Study found that many children and youth in out-of-home care in the state have significant developmental, physical, emotional, behavioral and/or educational challenges. However, some children in the study are capable of functioning well at home and school, despite the trauma of abuse and neglect and the difficulties of living in out-of-home care. We used measures from the study to examine how frequently children and youth functioned well across multiple measures. We found that many Illinois children and youth in out-of-home care demonstrated behavioral, emotional and educational resilience across multiple measures of functioning. Child welfare practice needs to take into account children and youth’s resilience and build on their strengths.

Feb 2021 / Report    

Child Welfare Workforce Task Force: Literature Review, Employer Survey, and Recommendations

Laura Lee, Steve Tran, Michael Braun, Robin LaSota, and Tamara Fuller

Public Act 100-0879, enacted in August 2018, created a bi-partisan task force to: 1) study the compensation and workload of child welfare workers, 2) determine the role that these factors play in the recruitment and retention of the child welfare workers, and 3) determine the role that staff turnover plays in achieving safety and timely permanence for children. The Children and Family Research Center assisted the task force by conducting a literature review of the factors that impact child welfare worker retention and implementing a survey of all child welfare employers within Illinois to examine the role that compensation and other factors have on retention. This report contains the findings of the literature review and survey, as well as the recommendations that the task force made to improve child welfare retention.

Feb 2021 / Journal Publication / Well-Being of Children Involved with the Child Welfare System    

The Relationship of Needs Assessed at Entry Into Out-of-Home Care to Children and Youth’s Later Emotional and Behavioral Problems in Care

Theodore Cross, Steve Tran, Eliza Betteridge, Robert Hjertquist, Tawny Spinelli , Jennifer Prior, and Neil Jordan

Screening children who are entering out-of-home care is widely implemented but not thoroughly studied. Using a sample from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, This study examines whether emotional and behavioral needs identified by an Integrated Assessment (IA) at entry predict needs and services while in care. Data from the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) measure completed in the IA were combined with data from a point-in-time study of the well-being of children in out-of-home care. Logistic regression analyses found that having a need identified at entry predicted having a similar need and receiving mental health services during out-of-home care (p < .05 to p < .001). The relationship did not diminish with length of time in care; IA CANS predicted needs and services even for children in out-of-home care for many years. These results provide evidence for the validity of the IA CANS for screening for children’s needs in out-of-home care. The persistence of problems suggests the value of baseline screening as a guide for service delivery throughout children’s stay in care, and the need for more effective mental health services specially tailored for children in out-of-home care.

Cross, T., Tran, S., Betteridge, E., Hjertquist, R., Spinelli, T., Prior, J., & Jordan, N. (2021). The relationship of needs assessed at entry into out-of-home care to children and youth’s later emotional and behavioral problems in care. Children and Youth Services Review, 122(2021).

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