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By Meghan McCann

Children's wellbeing across a broad range of issues were in the spotlight when NCSL’s Children and Families Program, Child Welfare Project participated in the 2014 Three Branch Institute meeting in Milwaukee, Wisc.

From June 30-July 2, Representative Harry Brooks of Tennessee, Judge Donna Davenport of Rutherford County Juvenile Court in Tennessee, and James Henry, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, address the group about Tennessee’s success with their independent three branch effort.NCSL and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices hosted the 2014 Three Branch Institute on Child Social and Emotional Well-Being. Other partners include Casey Family Programs and the National Center for Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

The Three Branch Institute is a partnership of the judicial, executive and legislative branches of seven states. Each institute has a new focus, from reducing the numbers of children in foster care, to enhancing permanency for older adolescents to this year’s topic of social and emotional wellbeing in foster care.

Participants in the 2013-2014 Three Branch Institute, including more than eight state legislators and staff, interacted with national experts, foster youth, state administrators and their colleagues in other states to continue work on their strategic plans created during the 2013 Three Branch Institute. These teams exchanged ideas and discussed barriers and potential solutions to improving the well-being of children in foster care. Experts discussed topics such as data collection and interpretation, substance abuse, psychotropic drugs, trauma informed care, among other timely and interesting topics.

In addition to each annual convening there is ongoing technical assistance, webinars, and meetings of each state’s home team to further move the project and the strategic plans along.

Read more about the Three Branch Institute. is available HERE.

Meghan McCann is a policy associate with NCSL’s Children and Families Program. She focuses on issues of child welfare, child support and family law.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.

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