Frontline For Children | March 2020

Where Science Meets Policy

In light of the urgent and staggering impacts of COVID-19, this month’s Frontline for Children includes a new “Practice” section aimed at parents as they navigate new challenges with their own children.

Child Protection Research

During the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth can help connect home visiting services to families

“Research shows that child abuse, intimate partner violence, and substance abuse increase during times of crisis, so it is now more important than ever to provide support to families who may face barriers to accessing services.” This resource summarizes research-supported technological outreach strategies for home visiting programs.

TexProtects’ Takeaway – Home visiting programs, Early Childhood Intervention, as well as physical and behavioral health services are quickly expanding their telehealth capacities in light of the challenges of COVID-19. Learnings from the field should ensure high quality adaptations that can better serve families with challenges to access both now and in the future and include cost considerations.

Scaling Evidence-Based Programs in Child Welfare (IBM Center for the Business of Government)

This report illustrates how policymakers might scale a pilot program that has been successful in its early stages, using three different child maltreatment prevention services as examples: home visiting, mental health services, and substance use services.

TexProtects’ Takeaway – As Texas develops a comprehensive and effective plan for implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First), it’s critical that evidence from the field is considered. Successful scaling requires active and targeted support from lead agencies and sufficient resources to ensure fidelity to core quality components.

A New Way to Talk about the Social Determinants of Health (Robert Woods Johnson Foundation)

“This guide discusses why we need a better way to talk about the social determinants of health, and best practices to assist in conversation with different audiences around the topic.”

TexProtects’ Takeaway – Our health is influenced by where we live, learn, work, and play so we need to invest not only in where health ends, but where it begins! To do that, it’s essential that we communicate in ways that connect with leaders and voters across the political spectrum. This report has great advice on how to do so!

Preventing and Addressing Intimate Violence when Engaging Dads (PAIVED): Challenges, Successes, and Promising Practices from Responsible Fatherhood Programs

This report addresses how responsible fatherhood programs prevent and address intimate partner violence.

TexProtects’ Takeaway – A father’s role in promoting safety and well-being for children cannot be underestimated; however, there are numerous barriers to effective fatherhood engagement in programs that could offer support. When offering support to fathers who use violence, it’s important to help them understand the impact of violence on their children and to help them process their own trauma. Trauma-informed approaches are critical.

Child Protection Policy

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information, News, & Resources for Child Welfare Professionals and Others (Child Welfare League of America; CWLA)

This link features tips, sample (state) policies and protocols, and resources that CWLA has collected regarding the outbreak.

TexProtects’ Takeaway – Child Welfare agencies, including our own Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, are having to rapidly respond to the changing environment as a result of COVID-19 while still ensuring child safety. TexProtects is closely monitoring and offering recommendations along the way and will continue to keep you updated on important developments and concerns as they arise.

Child Care is Essential and Needs Emergency Support to Survive (National Association for the Education of Young Children; NAEYC)

This position statement describes NAEYC’s response to COVID-19 and 10 steps for states and districts to support child care during this time.

TexProtects’ Takeaway – The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted how essential and under-resourced our early childhood systems are. Now more than ever, we need to ensure that these centers and staff are supported and protected to ensure their sustainability during this crisis and beyond it.

State Fact Sheets: How States Spend Funds Under the TANF Block Grant (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

“In 2018, states spent only about a fifth of the funds on basic assistance to meet essential needs of families with children.”

TexProtects’ Takeaway – In contrast, Texas only spent 6% of their TANF funds on basic assistance. TANF funds provide essential funding for not only basic assistance, but also childcare, child welfare, and Pre-K. However, the TANF block grant has been frozen since its creation and has lost 40% of its value due to inflation.

New Recommendations Released – Historic Opportunity for Reform in Child Welfare: Quality Residential Services (FosterClub)

The National Foster Care Youth & Alumni Policy Council recently released a statement with six priorities, including Quality Residential Treatment Centers (QRTP) and moving towards “a 21st Century Child Welfare System”.

TexProtects’ Takeaway – The Family First Prevention Services Act offers unprecedented opportunities to increase quality in congregate care settings. The voice of youth with lived experience should be a driving force in the process of determining the most impactful improvement to the child welfare system.

Child Protection Practice

Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope with the Coronavirus Disease (National Child Traumatic Stress Network)

“This resource will help parents and caregivers think about how an infectious disease outbreak might affect their family – both physically and emotionally – and what they can do to help their family cope.”

TexProtects’ Takeaway – In addition to physical health and safety, families have a unique challenge in helping themselves and their children deal with the stress of the isolation and anxiety due to COVID-19. Remember to take care of yourself, take a break, and offer yourself and your children more room to breathe and relax than normal. And stay connected! Your presence and calm will be the largest determinant of how they experience this time.

Coronavirus Resources & Tips for Parents, Children & Others (Prevent Child Abuse America)

This webpage offers tips on staying emotionally and socially connected while physically distancing during the COVID-19 crisis.

TexProtects’ Takeaway – Even when we are apart, we can get creative and stay connected to family, friends and neighbors, our culture, and ourselves. Our connections are protective and will be the ties that hold us together during challenges. Find ways to make this time fun when you can. We are in this together.

Resources for Supporting Children’s Emotional Well-being during the COVID-19 Pandemic

… research on natural disasters makes it clear that, compared to adults, children are more vulnerable to the emotional impact of traumatic events that disrupt their daily lives. This resource offers information on supporting and protecting children’s emotional well-being as this public health crisis unfolds.”

TexProtects’ Takeaway – Reassurance, routines, and regulation can do so much for supporting children’s emotional health. And remember that reactions and behaviors will likely vary depending on the day.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Emergency: Information and assistance for young people in and from foster care (FosterClub)

This website provides links to resources, information, and opportunities for young people who experienced or are experiencing foster care to find support during the pandemic.

TexProtects’ Takeaway – Older youth in the foster care system as well as those who have aged out are especially vulnerable during this emergency. Access to information and resources will be critical to help them establish safety plans during this time.

Frontline for Children | February 2020

Where Science Meets Policy

New and Noteworthy – Child Protection Research

Trends in Pediatricians’ Developmental Screening Rates 2002 – 2016 (American Academy of Pediatrics)

A study released last week shows that 63% of pediatricians reported utilizing standardized developmental screening tools in 2016. That’s up 21% since 2002, but well short of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that ALL children be screened at 9, 18, and 30 months.

TexProtects’ Takeaway: As part of our Prenatal to Three Policy Agenda, TexProtects will be working throughout the interim and into next session on ways to increase the rates and quality of developmental screenings, as well as ensuring that appropriate referrals are provided in response to those screenings. It’s about getting families to the right community resources at the right time!

Prenatal and Infancy Nurse Home Visiting and 18-Year Outcomes of a Randomized Trial (American Academy of Pediatrics)

A randomized control trial of 742 pregnant, low-income women with no previous live births found that children whose mothers had participated in nurse home visiting demonstrated better receptive language, math achievement, and a number of other secondary cognitive-related outcomes.


Prenatal and Infancy Nurse Home Visiting Effects on Mothers: 18-Year Follow-up of a Randomized Trial (American Academy of Pediatrics)

An 18-year follow-up of 618 out of 742 low-income, primarily African-American mothers with no previous live births enrolled in an randomized clinical trial of a prenatal and infancy nurse home visiting program concluded that nurse-visited women incurred $17,310 less in public benefit costs compared with program costs of $12,578.

TexProtects’ Takeaway: Since its inception, TexProtects has advocated for the expansion of evidence-based home visiting programs like Nurse-Family Partnership: they have an amazing return on investment and positive outcomes across multiple domains and two generations. Despite significant progress, less than 4% of families who could benefit from these programs have access to them. Expanding home visiting programs through the Prevention and Intervention Division, the Family First Prevention Services Act, and other funders is a critical part of our Prenatal to Three policy agenda.

New and Noteworthy – Child Protection Policy

States can improve supports for infants and toddlers who are in or at risk of entering foster care (ChildTrends)

Child Trends fielded the 2019 Survey of Child Welfare Agency Policies and Practices for Infants and Toddlers in–or who are candidates for–Foster Care to understand what policies and services are already in place for infants and toddlers involved in and at risk of entering foster care, as well as to understand where the child welfare field can leverage the opportunities provided by the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA).

TexProtects’ Takeaway: With FFPSA, states have a new opportunity to use federal funds to support the children and families who are at risk of becoming involved with the foster care system. Texas will likely need to increase its capacity to provide a robust array of services for infants and toddlers who are candidates for foster care, as well as their families. FFPSA is included in interim charges to multiple committees that will hold hearings in the coming months to monitor the Department of Family and Protective Service’s (DFPS) planning and implementation. Stay tuned for ways you can participate and speak up for Texas children.

Using implementation science to make sure evidence-based policy is sized to fit target populations (ChildTrends)

Child Trends’ Lauren Supplee recently appeared on the Freakonomics podcast to discuss evidence-based policy and implementation science, the study of what factors make it possible to scale up research-tested programs to serve larger populations in different communities.

TexProtects’ Takeaway: Evidence-based policy ensures that children and families benefit from proven programs. However, implementation matters! Investments in continued evaluation, adaptations for unique populations, and model fidelity are critical components in taking what works in one place to a larger scale. Thankfully, innovators at Child Trends as well as the Child and Family Research Partnership (CFRP) at the University of Texas are leading the way in designing solutions for these challenges.

Supporting Early Learning in America – Policies for a New Decade (New America)

New America makes eight recommendations to further policy actions that will help “America’s children become lifelong learners who are able to think critically and inventively, manage their emotions and impulses, and make smart decisions.”

TexProtects’ Takeaway: There is much that can be done to support the healthy development of a child’s brain in the early years, both inside and outside the home. TexProtects appreciates the recommendations to support two-generation programs (like home visiting) and ensure that they are integrated with other early childhood systems, as well as the recommendation to identify stable funding sources for early education and care so that parents can plan ahead, knowing they will have access to high quality and affordable care while they are at work.

State Child Care Assistance Policies: Texas (National Women’s Law Center)

NWLC compiled a sheet of child care assistance policy-related facts based on the landscape of care in Texas in 2019.


The Child Care Crisis Causes Job Disruptions for More Than 2 Million Parents Each Year (Center for American Progress)

“Unsurprisingly, it is mothers’ employment that suffers most when families are unable to find a child care program that suits their needs. The child care crisis not only affects families’ bottom lines; it also costs the economy $57 billion in annual lost revenue, wages, and productivity.”

TexProtects’ Takeaway: Texas policymakers must do more in the upcoming legislative session to ensure low-income families are able to receive child care assistance, which is critical for the parents’ ability to support their families. High-quality child care is also critical for children’s safety and brain development. 16,379 children on wait lists for child care assistance (as of February 2019) is too many.

Frontline for Children | Where Science Meets Policy

Launching our new monthly feature

TexProtects is pleased to launch our latest monthly feature, Frontline for Children. In it, we will share the newest and most noteworthy child protection research and resources to keep you in the know and inform your work. Our new partnership with Child Trends–the nation’s leading nonprofit research organization focused exclusively on improving the lives and prospects of children, youth, and their families–has expanded our ability to ensure that we are able to keep you connected to innovations and data that will inform policy and program to ensure that every child is safe, nurtured, and resilient.

New and Noteworthy – Child Protection Research

Pediatricians and Child Psychiatrists Suggest Comprehensive Approach in Caring for Children who Have Been Maltreated (American Academy of Pediatrics)

“’Ideally, pediatricians work closely with therapists and psychiatrists when treating children who have been maltreated, but we know this is not always possible,’ Dr. Keeshin said. ‘This report offers pediatricians some tools to help children and families address mental health problems that stem from maltreatment.”

TexProtects’ Takeaway: To ensure the most effective interventions for healing and to minimize the use of psychotropic medications, medical, social, and trauma histories should be integrated when working with children who have experienced maltreatment.

Opportunities for States to Improve Infant Health Outcomes (Center for American Progress)

Features an interactive map of infant health outcomes by race and ethnicity, across states. In Texas, the state average infant mortality rate is 5.8 per 1000; however, for African American/black infants the rate is 9.8 per 1000. Similarly, 8.4% of Texas infants are born low birth weight; however, that rate jumps to 12.4% for African American/black infants.

TexProtects’ Takeaway: Infant health outcomes are closely tied to a mother’s health during pregnancy. Texas must do more to ensure equitable access to maternal care and home visiting programs to ensure healthy beginnings for our children, particularly in our rural communities where there are the greatest disparities.

Children with special health care needs are more likely to have adverse childhood experiences

Child Trends analyzed data from the 2016-2017 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH), which asks parents or guardians to report whether their child has experienced any of nine out of the 10 ACEs. We found that the prevalence of ACEs is higher among children with special health care needs than among their peers.

TexProtects’ Takeaway: Trauma-informed practices should be incorporated into programs and services for these children and their caregivers to mitigate the long term-impacts associated with adverse childhood  experiences. Children with SHCN are three to four times more likely to experience abuse and neglect which make up five of the ACEs.

New and noteworthy – Child Protection Policy

Who’s paying now? The explicit and implicit costs of the current early care and education system (Economic Policy Institute)

“The U.S. is already pouring billions of dollars into the current system through government expenditures and parental contributions. And yet the current system is failing parents by stretching family budgets and keeping millions out of the labor force.” 

TexProtects’ Takeaway: High quality early childhood education has a positive return on investment in terms of societal benefits as well as increases in revenue and savings for government. Our Prenatal to Three Initiative with Texans Care for Children and Children at Risk has set a policy agenda to further improve this system in Texas.

Impact of $550 Million in Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCBDG) Funding Increase for States (Center for Law and Social Policy)

Offers an estimated distribution of the $550 million increase in CCDBG funds across states in 2020. Texas is estimated to receive $56,939,000 in additional funding.

TexProtects’ Takeaway: CCBDG is the largest source of federal funding for childcare; however, even with this increase, only a fraction of eligible children will have access.

Family First Transition Act passed with bipartisan support

New legislation bolsters support for the foster care system by establishing funds to help states implement prevention pieces of the 2018 Family First Act.

TexProtects’ Takeaway: These funds will allow Texas to invest in family preservation by offering high risk families evidence-based mental health, substance use, and parenting programs. The Family First Prevention    Services Act is an unprecedented opportunity that should be a top priority for agencies and lawmakers involved in child protection.