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Child Welfare and Mental Health

A new series of papers released by the Children's Bureau, Integrating Safety, Permanency and Well­Being in Child Welfare

This series of papers, Integrating Safety, Permanency and Well-Being in Child Welfare, describes how a more fully integrated and developmentally specific approach in Child Welfare can improve both child and system level outcomes.

The overview, Integrating Safety, Permanency and Well-Being: A view from the Field (Wilson), provides a look at the evolution of the child welfare system from the 1970’s forward.

The first paper, A comprehensive Framework for Nurturing the Well Being of Children and Adolescents (Biglan), provides a framework for considering the domains and indicators of wellbeing.

The second paper, Screening, Assessing, Monitoring Outcomes and Using Evidence-based Practices to Improve Well-Being of Children in Foster Care(Conradi, Landsverk, Wotring), describes a process for delivering trauma screening, functional and clinical assessment, evidence based interventions and  the use of progress monitoring in order to better achieve well-being outcomes.

The third paper, A Case Example of the Administration on Children and, Youth and Families' Well-Being Framework: KIPP (Akin, Bryson, McDonald, and Wilson) presents a case study of the Kansas Intensive Permanency Project and describes how it has implemented many of the core aspects of a well-being framework.

I welcome any comments, thoughts, or suggestions you may have regarding these papers. Send me a quick email or comment at James.Wotring@georgetown.edu or send one to Kathryne O’Grady our Child Welfare Policy Director at ko417@georgetown.edu.

These publications were produced by Paltech, Inc. under the Technical Support and Product Development for the Children’s Bureau and its Grantees, contract number HHSP23320095648WC with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).


Through its Child Welfare Initiative, the National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health (TA Center) works to increase the capacity of states, tribes, territories, and communities to provide effective mental health services for children, youth and families served by the child welfare system. By ensuring an essential child welfare voice, and focus in its work, the TA Center infuses child welfare issues into its ongoing activities. It is currently focusing on assisting the Children’s Bureau of the federal Administration on Children, Youth and Families, which provides funding for this initiative through a cooperative agreement with the Child, Adolescent and Family Branch of the federal Center for Mental Health Services, with infusing trauma-informed care into the child welfare system.

The TA Center’s Child Welfare Initiative promotes collaboration across child welfare and mental health agencies to design interventions that are built on the values of family-driven, youth guided, community-based, and cultural competence. These values are core to achieving positive outcomes and should be woven into the screening, assessment, treatment and aftercare for children and youth in the child welfare system who have behavioral health problems, and in support for their families. The TA Center promotes the adoption of a system of care framework, specifically adapted for child welfare systems, in planning, implementing and evaluating collaborative service delivery systems. The goals of implementing a systems of care approach across child welfare and mental health systems are to: 1) support and sustain a seamless statewide, cross-agency, behavioral health system; 2) produce positive outcomes for children and families; and 3) better achieve permanency, safety and well-being.

Child Welfare Activities and Initiatives

As part of the Child Welfare Initiative, the TA Center:

  • Provides technical assistance and training for states, tribes, territories, communities, family organizations, national organizations and federal agencies on child welfare, behavioral health, and cross system issues;
  • Assists child welfare and mental health leaders to build effective systems of care to produce better outcomes for children and youth, and their families;
  • Facilitates collaboration between behavioral health and child welfare systems to improve outcomes for children and youth, and their families;
  • Conducts relevant national studies of current and best practices and disseminates findings;
  • Provides a cross-system voice in policy discussions on national task forces;
  • Assists child welfare agencies to communicate effectively with families in the child welfare system about their rights and responsibilities and how to advocate for themselves; and
  • Promotes parent and family partnerships at every stage of policy making and service delivery decisions.


Building Systems of Care: A Primer for Child Welfare, Pires, S., Lazear, K., and Conlan, L. (2008)

Financing Behavioral Health Services and Supports for Children, Youth and Families in the Child Welfare System - A Report of National Survey Findings, McCarthy, J., Le, L.T. (2008)

Building Systems of Care - A Primer for Child Welfare, Pires, S., Lazear, K., and Conlan, L. (2007)

Child and Family Service Reviews 2001-2004: A Mental Health Analysis, McCarthy, J., Van Buren, E., Irvine, M. (2007)

A Family’s Guide to the Child Welfare System, Second Edition, (2005) (update scheduled for release Summer 2015)

Meeting the Health Care Needs of Children in the Foster Care System: Strategies for Implementation, Wolverton, M. (2002)

For Past Webinars, please click here


For more information about child welfare activities within the TA Center, please contact Kathryne O'Grady at 202-687-8855.