Parents, caregivers, and caring adults

Guide for Incarcerated Parents Who Have Children in the Child Welfare System

A new guide helps parents involved in the criminal justice system work with the child welfare system to stay involved with their children and understand the reunification process.

Guide for Incarcerated Parents Who Have Children in the Child Welfare System

A new guide helps parents involved in the criminal justice system work with the child welfare system to stay involved with their children and understand the reunification process.

Children of Incarcerated Parents: Presentations

The Benefits and Importance of Using YPAR with Youth with Incarcerated Parents

On September 21, 2020, the Federal Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs hosted the webinar, The Benefits and Importance of Using YPAR with Youth with Incarcerated Parents. Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) is an approach in which researchers engage youth as full partners in the research process. The approach teaches valuable skills while answering questions about topics youth deem critical. Research data and findings may be applied to policy and practice. This webinar discusses the variety of roles youth may hold and the importance of leveraging developmental relationships while conducting YPAR. Hear directly from a youth about her experiences with YPAR. This webinar is especially useful for researchers who conduct YPAR working with youth who have or have had an incarcerated parent.

Watch the webinar recording and download the slides (PDF, 39 pages):


Safeguarding Children of Arrested Parents: Implementing the Model Arrest Policy

On May 15, 2019, the Federal Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the American Institutes for Research hosted the webinar, Safeguarding Children of Arrested Parents: Implementing the Model Arrest Policy. This 90-minute live webinar highlighted the Model Arrest Policy implementation and is recommended for law enforcement staff, probation officers, social services staff, youth serving organizations, and researchers. The purpose of this webinar was:

  1. To highlight how a locality has instituted the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) model arrest policy through collaborations (e.g., between non-profit organizations and government agencies) to protect children of arrested parents.
  2. To share the experiences of a youth who has witnessed the arrest of her parent.
  3. To highlight research on the impact a parent’s arrest has on children, especially those who have witnessed the arrest.

Watch the webinar recording:

Listen to a follow-up interview with the youth presenter:


Educators are Critical Partners in Making A Difference in the Lives of Children of Incarcerated Parents

On September 24, 2015, the Federal Interagency Reentry Council (FIRC) Subcommittee on Children of Incarcerated Parents and the American Institutes for Research hosted the webinar, Educators are Critical Partners in Making A Difference in the Lives of Children of Incarcerated Parents. This presentation and Q&A session provided the audience with statistics on the prevalence of children with incarcerated parents, practical tips for addressing the needs of these children and youth, and how to use collaboration, focused assistance, and advocacy to contribute to positive outcomes for children who have an incarcerated parent. Presenters included nationally-recognized experts, educators who are currently addressing the needs of children of incarcerate parents, and a youth whose parent is incarcerated:

  • Ann Adalist-Estrin — Director, National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated
  • David Osher — Vice President and Institute Fellow, American Institutes for Research
  • Dwight Davis — Assistant Principal, Turnaround for Children Partner School
  • Kendall T. — U.S. Dream Academy Graduate
  • Download the speaker biographies (PDF, 5 pages).

Watch the webinar recording:

  • Download the presentation slides (PDF, 60 pages).
  • Download the transcript (PDF, 20 pages).

» Learn more about Children of Incarcerated Parents at youth.gov/COIP.

» Join the Children of Incarcerated Parents listserv.

Family Engagement

Meaningful Family Engagement

Family engagement is essential in promoting healthy physical, cognitive and social-emotional development, and academic achievement of children and youth from pre-K to high school. Research shows that when families are meaningfully and continuously engaged in their children’s learning and development, they can positively impact their child’s health, development, academic, and well-being outcomes into adulthood.1,2

Description of Family Engagement

Strong family engagement happens when families have a primary and meaningful role in all decision-making that impacts every young person and their families. Meaningful family engagement is about improving outcomes for all youth and families and happens at the system level and at the service level.

At the system level, family engagement is evident when families routinely engage as equal partners with state and local leaders in planning, designing, and evaluating services, programs and policies that impact the lives of children, youth and families served.

Family engagement also happens at the individual service level where agency partners and a single family collaborate in making decisions that address their child’s unique strengths and needs and considers the family’s ideas of success. Meaningful family engagement requires that state and local leaders model and champion family partnership anchored by mutual respect, shared authority, two-way communication, and a commitment to a common vision and shared goals to improve outcomes for every young person and their family.3,4

Definition of “Family” in Family Engagement

Child and youth serving systems broadly define “family” in family engagement as including parents and other adult caregivers, acknowledging today’s varied family units and their needs for extended supports. For example, early childhood education and juvenile justice programming describe family engagement as including biological, adoptive, and foster parents; grandparents; legal and informal guardians; and adult siblings.5,6

Some agencies have broadened this definition of family to include related and non-related members. As an example, transition-aged and foster youth work with their providers to identify and name their personal family system that includes peers, mentors, and service providers who they trust and can count on for support. Key service sectors that are implementing family engagement plans and strategies to increase and improve the engagement of families in their systems and services include education, child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health, and primary health care providers.

References

1 Weiss, Lopez, & Caspe, 2016
2 Henderson & Mapp, 2002
3 U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education, 2016
4 Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2016
5 U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education, 2016
6 Development Services Group, Inc., 2018

New Developments in School Safety

Schools around the nation are implementing protocols and safety measures in order to keep our students and educators safe. With congress allocating over a hundred million dollars towards school safety, the education systems is taking great steps towards learning institutions that are protecting private student information and the students themselves.

Qualifications and Attributes Critical to Employers

What are the key competencies and foundational skills for successful workers?

Many skills are necessary for individuals to be successful workers, including academic knowledge, technical expertise, and general, cross-cutting abilities (often called employability skills, soft skills, workforce readiness skills, or career readiness skills) that are necessary for success in all employment levels and sectors.

  1. Applied Knowledge—thoughtful integration of academic knowledge and technical skills, put to practical use in the workplace.
  2. Effective Relationships—interpersonal skills and personal qualities that enable individuals to interact effectively with clients, coworkers, and supervisors.
  3. Workplace Skills—analytical and organizational skills and understandings that employees need to successfully perform work tasks.

Two major research studies involving surveys and feedback from large numbers of employers have established that “employability skills” outrank technical skills—or those skills needed for specific occupations based on industry standards—as the most important requirement for success in the workplace.1 Despite this, a 2007 report found that many young people lack the soft skills needed to excel in the workplace.2

Soft skills are generally defined as personal qualities, not technical, that translate into good job performance such as time-management and interpersonal skills. The Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) identified five competencies and three foundational skills and personal qualities needed for successful job performance.

The five competencies follow:

  • Managing resources: The ability to allocate time, money, materials, space, and staff
  • Working with others: The ability to work well with other people; teamwork skills are associated with communication skills, understanding of group culture, and sensitivity to the feelings and opinions of others
  • Managing information: The ability to acquire and evaluate data, organize and maintain files, interpret and communicate ideas and messages, and use technology to process information
  • Understanding systems: The ability to understand social, organizational, and technological systems; monitor and correct performance; and design or improve systems
  • Utilizing technology: The ability to select equipment and tools, apply technology to specific tasks, and maintain and troubleshoot technologies

Three foundational skills are believed to support the competencies above:

  • Basic skills: Reading, writing, arithmetic, and computational skills are essential to effectiveness on the job. Listening and speaking skills that enable accurate interpretations of informational exchanges and mathematics skills that enable workers to solve problems on the job are highly valued and are dependent on having fundamental language and mathematics capability. The “three Rs” are building blocks to higher-level functioning on the job.
  • Thinking skills: Most studies list critical thinking, creative thinking, reasoning, and knowing how to learn new tasks as essential soft skills. “Problem solving” is another term that expresses the ability to analyze information and arrive at logical conclusions that add value to a worker’s efforts.
  • Personal qualities: “Personal qualities” is a catch-all phrase that reflects values and behaviors that are aligned with the culture of the workplace. A strong work ethic, professionalism, self-management, integrity, individual responsibility, networking skills, adaptability, and sociability are soft skills that fall under this heading.3

In 2007, the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) asked representatives from businesses that were recognized for their innovative and proactive efforts to recruit, hire, and promote people with disabilities to develop a list of essential skills for young workers. The skills the group identified were similar to those identified as key competencies for successful young workers in the SCANS report. They included networking, enthusiasm, professionalism, communication skills, teamwork, and problem solving.4

How can these skills be developed?

Soft skills can be developed through on-the-job coaching, in the classroom, through youth-serving organizations, and through service-learning and volunteering.

On-the-Job Coaching

Employers can encourage both technical and soft skill development through on-the-job coaching. Examples of on-the-job coaching are internships, apprenticeships, work-study programs, and training experiences where soft skills are learned through experiences. Although learning soft and technical skills on the job provides employees with an authentic learning experience, it can be challenging for employers to identify qualified coaches and allocate the appropriate staff time to ensure a focus on learning and skill development.5

Schools

Schools can prepare youth for the workplace by teaching soft skills or creating classroom environments that mimic work environments.6 These activities can make typical high school courses more relevant to students because almost everyone will work someday. Here are some essential workplace skills that can be taught in schools:

  • Effective oral and written communications: This includes “active” listening (i.e., listening and speaking for clarity), writing business letters and resumes, and understanding email and cell phone etiquette in the workplace.
  • Teamwork: For students who do not learn teamwork through sports, classroom projects assigned to teams of students provide good practice.
  • Diversity training: Schools frequently offer diversity training to students, but not in the context of the workplace. This minor adjustment can prepare youth for work in diverse workforce settings.
  • Professionalism: Classroom teachers can teach nearly any course in a workplace simulation that also prepares students for the culture and nuances of a work environment and the expectations of their employers. This approach could include simulating how to deal with a boss, manage time, and work within a system of incentives.7

ODEP developed a curriculum for youth-serving professionals to assist them in working with in-school and out-of-school youth between the ages of 14 and 21, both with and without disabilities, in the development of employability skills. Soft Skills to Pay the Bills: Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success is a curriculum focused on teaching soft or workforce readiness skills to youth, including youth with disabilities. The basic structure of the program comprises hands-on, engaging activities that focus on six key skill areas: communication, enthusiasm and attitude, teamwork, networking, problem solving and critical thinking, and professionalism. The series also includes a soft skills video series with an accompanying discussion guide (PDF, 8 pages).

Youth Programs, Service-Learning, and Volunteering

Just like schools, service-learning projects, youth-serving organizations, and volunteering opportunities can also help foster soft skill development. For example, students who participate in service-learning have been found to develop increased tolerance of diversity and appreciation of other cultures, greater self-knowledge, personal efficacy, teamwork, leadership skills, compassion, selflessness, and intrinsic rewards.8

Resources

Employability Skills Framework
Resources on employability skills for employers, educators, and policymakers from the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education.

Soft Skills to Pay the Bills—Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success
The Office of Disability Employment Policy developed this curriculum focused on teaching soft or workforce readiness skills to youth, including youth with disabilities. The curriculum was created for youth development professionals as an introduction to workplace interpersonal and professional skills. The curriculum targets youth ages 14 to 21 in both in-school and out-of-school environments. The basic structure of the program consists of modular, hands-on, engaging activities that focus on six key skill areas: communication, enthusiasm and attitude, teamwork, networking, problem solving and critical thinking, and professionalism.

The Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) (PDF, 48 pages)
In 1990, the Secretary of Labor appointed a commission to determine the skills that our young people need to succeed in the world of work. The commission’s fundamental purpose was to encourage a high-performance economy characterized by high-skill, high-wage employment. Although the commission completed its work in 1992, its findings and recommendations continue to be a valuable source of information for individuals and organizations involved in education and workforce development.

Teaching the SCANS Competencies (PDF, 120 pages)
This report compiles six articles that give education and training practitioners practical suggestions for applying SCANS in classrooms and the workplace.

Teaching Soft Skills (PDF, 9 pages)
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy provides a resource focused on how schools and employment opportunities can teach soft skills, specifically for students with disabilities.

1 Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills, 1992; The Conference Board Corporate, Voices for Working Families, Partnership for 21st Century Skills, & Society for Human Resource Management, 2006
2 America’s Promise Alliance, 2007
3 SCANS, 1992
4 U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy, 2011
5 U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy, 2010
6 U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy, 2010
7 U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy, 2010
8 Joseph, Spake, Grantham, & Stone, 2008; Milne, Gabb, & Leihy, 2008

History of MADD

Developed in honor of the 35th anniversary of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), this infographic shows the organization's history and includes important reminders on the dangers of drunk driving.

College Scholarships

This site includes scholarship information and other resources for students, including an instant GPA calculator, contact information for colleges in the United States, a list of colleges that offer comprehensive programs for students with learning disabilities, lists of Christian, Catholic, and woman's colleges, a list of HBCU's, and links to more than 2,500 career schools, online degree programs, and colleges.

Online Master’s Programs

Like any advanced degree, an online master's degree requires a great deal of forethought and drive. Here you'll find what you need to identify a reputable master's program, succeed in the program, and land a career that makes the most of your education.

The Debt Free College Degree

Attending college is the dream of many, but the thought of graduating with a ton of debt can make any prospective college student think twice about a college degree. Fortunately, there are a number of financial resources available to make one’s college dream come true without the crushing debt.