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A Presentation to the Child Welfare Council Rochelle Trochtenberg Youth Organizer, Humboldt County Transition Age Youth Collaboration Child Welfare Council Member Cheryl Treadwell California Dept of Social Services Penny Knapp, MD Professor Emeritus, University of California, Davis

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Presentation Transcript

A Presentation to the

Child Welfare Council

Rochelle Trochtenberg

Youth Organizer, Humboldt County Transition Age Youth Collaboration

Child Welfare Council Member

Cheryl Treadwell

California Dept of Social Services

Penny Knapp, MD

Professor Emeritus, University of California, Davis

September 4, 2013

Sacramento, California

objectives of the today s presentation

Objectives of the Today’s Presentation

Identify the Developmental Concerns for Young Children in Foster Care as discussed in the report.

Share information from the report about California’s youngest foster care population and highlight the opportunities for the Council.

Share the recommendations from the committee.

the research tells us
*The Research tells us…

Infants and toddlers placed in foster care have:

  • Longer placements
  • Higher rates of re-entry into foster care, recurrent maltreatment, and disruptions of family bonds than children and youth of other ages.
  • Increased risk for mental health problems for young children and more frequent prevalence of health problems and developmental delays.
  • Compromised ability to maintain and rebuild relationships.

*Janice L. Cooper, Patti Banghart, Yumiko Aratani. “Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Young Children in the Child Welfare System: What Every Policymaker Should Know.” National Center for Children in Poverty. September 2010.

what are infant early child mental health implications
What are infant/early child mental health implications?
  • Thirty-eight percent of children in California’s foster care systems are under five.
  • Seventy-seven percent of children are removed for neglect-related reasons.
  • Multiple placements: The younger the child is when removed, the more placements he/she will likely have.

Thus, blighted attachment begets fractured attachment.

why is earlier placement associated with greater problems
Why is earlier placement associated with greater problems?

If infant mental health is jeopardized or interfered with, as by early childhood neglect, abuse, malnutrition or trauma, clinical research has shown these consequences:

  • Biological and developmental:The brain fails to develop fully. Developmental failure of emotional and cognitive functions results from interpersonal understimulation.
  • Social-emotional and relational:Infants who are traumatized or neglected, are likelier to have lifelong psychiatric symptoms, and lifelong difficulties with personal relationships: e.g. psychiatric symptoms, personality disorders, or difficulties controlling violent impulses.

Thompson, R. A., & Nelson, C. A. (2001). Developmental science and the media: Early brain development. American Psychologist,56(1), 5-15.


Child is overwhelmed and may:

  • Dissociate
  • Be hypervigilant (+/or “hyperactive”
  • Have disturbed sleep, appetite, concentration

DC 0-3 diagnostic criteria


To the earliest interactive experiences, the brain responds by organizing it’s own and developing self regulation of Attention, Cognition, Mood, Anxiety and Impulse.Failed self regulation can lead to clinical syndromes:

importance of mental health p revention
Importance of Mental Health Prevention
  • Developmental and biological reasons
      • Attachment sculpts brain development:
      • NeurogenesisBy age 7, the child's brain is 90% of adult brain weight. Yet, throughout life, new synapses are formed, and reorganization of existing neuron connections continues
      • Foster placement results from/may create attachment problems
  • Cost effectiveness

Dollars saved exceed dollars spent


the plasticity of brain architecture decreases over time
The Plasticity of Brain Architecture Decreases Over Time
  • Brain circuits consolidate with increasing age, making them more difficult to rewire
  • The timetable of brain plasticity varies: it is narrow for basic sensory abilities, wider for language, and broadest for cognitive and social-emotional skills
  • Early plasticity makes the young brain both more vulnerable to harm and more capable of recovery
  • At all ages it is more efficient – biologically and economically – to prevent later difficulty than to try to remedy problems that emerge.
            • THE EARLIER THE BETTER….
information about california s youngest population
Information about California’sYoungest Population


In California as of July* 2012 the total number of children between the ages of zero to five totaled

19,349 ?

Infants and toddlers are the largest single group of children entering foster care.

what are the opportunities
What are the opportunities?
  • Enhance curricula & other training resources for social workers, court staff, caregivers and other community partners to recognize and respond to the impacts of traumatic stress
  • Incorporate scientific research into state and local politics and practices in order to promote positive development and prevent future maltreatment
  • Eliminate fragmentation and duplication of services for young children and their families
what are the opportunities cont d
What are the opportunities? cont’d
  • Encourage cross systems collaboration between local and state departments and
  • Formalize agreements between child welfare and other public agencies, community partners in order
  • To cultivate a system that provides timely, appropriate and quality services that can reduce the impact of trauma on young children in foster care.
other contextual opportunities
Other Contextual opportunities..

“The need to know more about children outside of specific depts. becomes significant as the CWS becomes more outcomes-focused”… i.e improve the ability to share meaningful data

Program Instructions from various Federal Partners

( i.e ACF, CMS, SAMSHA regarding foster children specific focus on trauma and well-being)

American Academy of Pediatricians recommendations to primary care physicians to use validated screening tools.

Katie A. Implementation promotes screening, assessment, treatment and improved coordination between mh and cws systems using child and family teams

Affordable Health Act… primary prevention, home visitation programs. etc


Raise the level of awareness regarding the needs of children ages zero to five in foster care and that all state and local agencies develop specialized supports and services for this vulnerable population

  • Identify benchmarks/indicators at the state and local levels to track the system’s success



  • Provide the leadership and forums to increase statewide awareness in order to develop a plan for action.
  • AND TO….