Several ongoing activities cut across the service areas described above. These activities will involve efforts to work across fields to improve the capacity of child welfare and substance abuse agencies to work together and serve families effectively. They include:
Technical Assistance and Training Activities. In the coming year, ACF will be examining its child welfare technical assistance strategy. The current cooperative agreements for five Child Welfare Resource Centers will be expiring, and new resource centers or other technical assistance mechanisms will be put in place to continue our efforts to assist the field in adapting to child welfare challenges. As this strategy is developed, ACF intends to assure that substance abuse issues are given adequate attention and that technical assistance providers have expertise to assist agencies in developing improved procedures for addressing families' complex needs. ACF will also be considering the need to develop specific resource materials on targeted topics such as confidentiality issues; establishing effective procedures for making substance abuse assessments and treatment referrals; using non-traditional resources for the purchase of substance abuse services; and judging progress in substance abuse treatment. ACF also expects to produce a series of "promising practices" documents highlighting emerging models of serving these families in a collaborative fashion.
In Fiscal Year 1997, ACF funded 11 Child Welfare Training Grants to schools of social work to develop competency-based interdisciplinary training curricula and training plans to enhance and strengthen the capacity of child welfare workers to respond to the complex family problems of child abuse and neglect resulting from substance abuse, mental illness and domestic violence. These three-year grants will soon be completed. The National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information will disseminate information regarding the availability of training materials resulting from these projects.
SAMHSA's technical assistance is provided primarily through 14 Addiction Technology Transfer Centers (ATTCs) located throughout the United States. Among the goals of the ATTCs is the cultivation of an interdisciplinary consortium of health care and related professionals to address effective approaches to substance abuse treatment and recovery. As part of these efforts, fostering collaboration between child welfare and substance abuse treatment agencies has been and will continue to be an ongoing focus of the ATTCs. In addition, SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment also funds a number of grant programs involving substance abuse treatment for women and children and provides technical assistance on child welfare issues to these grantees.
Child Welfare Demonstration Waivers. As noted in Chapter 7, HHS has the authority to grant demonstration waivers of legal and regulatory provisions of Federal child welfare programs (especially the Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance programs) in order to allow States to test innovative child welfare service models. As was the case last year, the Department will again this year give priority consideration to demonstration approaches designed to improve the child welfare system's response to families with substance abuse problems. ACF encourages States to consider whether such demonstration waivers would be helpful to the implementation of improved service approaches.
To date, 18 States have received approval for demonstration projects which aim to improve child welfare outcomes through:
- subsidized guardianship programs;
- more flexible use of foster care funds;
- fixed-cost funding arrangements;
- increasing the availability of services for specific sub-populations of children or families;
- efforts to increase adoption opportunities for children for whom reunification is unlikely.
As discussed in Chapter 7, two States are using demonstration waivers to provide specialized services for caretakers with substance abuse problems.