CFSA Will Implement New Strategies to Improve Outcomes for Victims of Abuse and Neglect

DC’s Child and Family Services Agency is about to become the first child welfare agency to build a trauma-informed system, using treatments that have been shown to help child victims of abuse and neglect recover more successfully and quickly. Research shows that trauma can damage a child’s brain architecture and impair functioning, with long-lasting consequences for that child’s well-being and ability to learn. Using trauma-focused treatments will train all the adults who work with children in the system—social workers, foster parents, lawyers, counselors and other professions—to minimize potential triggers in the child’s environment and help the child find new ways to feel safe and in control.

With funding from a $5.2 million federal grant, CFSA will implement trauma-focused treatment over the next five years. The use of trauma-informed treatment comes on the heels of other major changes to CSFA, under its new director Brenda Donald. CFSA is using strategies such as kinship care and front-end prevention—including parenting programs and home visiting services aimed at strengthening families—to reduce the number of children in foster care and keep children safe with their families. CFSA is also making progress on meeting benchmarks required by a long-standing lawsuit.

CFSA has developed new, easy-to-understand indicators of child safety, to clearly connect the agency’s performance to outcomes for children. These new indicators help to explain what the data mean, indicate progress and make that information available. The DC KIDS COUNT Data Center is one place where that information is available to everyone in the city, and we will be uploading new data on child safety in the coming weeks. Check back soon to see key safety indicators, such as children who are placed in kinship foster care and exits from foster care to a permanent home.

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