Weekly Notes: New Head of Refugee Resettlement at HHS; Financing Needs of Aging Out Youth; and more

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***Eskinder Negash has been appointed to be director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a division of the Administration for Children and Families that handles federal work on unaccompanied alien children and human trafficking.

Negash is currently the chief operating officer at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), a position he has held since 2002. He has three decades of experience working with refugee populations, both in the United States and in Sudan. Negash has first-person experience as well; he came to the U.S. as a refugee from Eritrea.

ORR's budget has grown about $100 million since 2005, when it was $485 million.

***We missed mentioning this in an earlier Notes, but ACF handed out $2 million of ORR money for its Rescue and Restore program, which aims to create anti-trafficking coalitions that will identify and assist victims of trafficking. The grantee is responsible for getting a local coalition up and running, and for re-granting at least 60 percent of its money to local groups to provide services.

Twelve grantees will divide the $2 million:

* Church United For Community Development (La.)- $150,000

* Civil Society (Minn.) - $100,000

* Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (Calif.) - $250,000

* Contra Costa County, Office of the County Administrator (Calif.)- $226,000

* The Curators of the University of Missouri - $100,000

* Free For Life Ministries (Tenn.) - $100,000

* Illinois Department of Human Services - $249,000

* International Rescue Committee (Wash.) - $250,000

* Justice Resource Institute (Mass.) - $202,000

* Practical Strategies (Wis.)- $100,000

* Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (Calif.)- $238,000

* Southeastern Network of Runaway Youth and Family Services (Fla.) - $185,000

***The Finance Project's Youth Transition Funders Group put out two reports last month on youth aging out of foster care, part of its Connected by 25 project. One outlines strategies for upping the amount of housing available for youth who are aging out, and provides some examples of localities that have already employed the strategies. The other is aimed at helping child welfare leaders develop sound financial plans to support permanency for aging-out youth.

***MIT researcher Joseph Doyle compared the criminal outcomes of youth in foster care to those who were kept with their families, excluding from his sample cases where it was unanimous that the child needed to be removed. Doyle's report states that children removed from the home are three times as likely to enter the adult justice system later in life. 

***Sacramento County's death review team, which analyzes the death of any child under 18, noted a spike in child abuse/neglect-related deaths from three in 2007 to 12 in 2008. So the county is bringing in the Child Welfare League of America to help CPS managers right the ship.

***All is not well in Milwaukee, which has for 11 years been engaged in child welfare reform brought by a settlement with nonprofit litigator Children's Rights. It's gained some recognition for its work in really tough cases using the Wraparound Milwaukee program, but its caseworkers feel burned out and its pool of foster homes has been drastically depleted, as Journal-Sentinel reporter Crocker Stephenson writes in this article. The challenges facing the system were recently documented in an independent report required by the lawsuit settlement.