September is Child Welfare Workforce Development Month. While recognizing the need for ongoing development, we must make sure we are looking to developing ways to support child welfare workers by building capacity.
Fueled by increasing demands to improve federal measures and strengthen parental engagement activities and at a time when programs are experiencing significant staff attrition, decreasing budgets, and stagnant collections, child support programs are under extreme pressure to rethink how they serve children and families.
Our child welfare systems can feel like we are in a game of Jenga. We are attempting to grow and expand our systems by moving pieces one by one - while stretching our limited capacity. But with each move, the entire system risks collapse, particularly with worker shortages.
Strategies to create a system that is aligned, prepared, and has the capacity needed to meet demand…regardless of the month, 365 days out of the year.
While it is wonderful to recognize the heroes during National Foster Care Month, we must also be aware of the realities of the foster care system and be willing to make a change. A change that will allow the heroes we celebrate to shine, unencumbered by complicated, outdated processes. If we take a glance through the lens of capacity, we will find a starting point so that we can do more good for children and families.
Redefining Social Worker Appreciation: How to create a system of capacity rather than a position of sacrifice
What if, instead of working so hard to appreciate the sacrifice, child welfare leaders took a long look in the mirror to see why social workers must sacrifice work-life balance in the first place? Maybe the question isn't about how we appreciate social workers well. Maybe the real question is how we get off the hamster wheel and create system capacity, so appreciation is reserved for a job well done, not to make up for a personal life lost.
The goals associated with Family First are both noble and needed. If we do not fix our capacity crisis in child welfare, we may never see the results we hope to achieve.
Never Getting Behind Again: How One Child Welfare Agency Used the Pandemic to Transform Their Work to Help Children and Families
How the Indiana Department of Child Services used the pandemic to transform their work to help children and families.
From Safety Decision to Reunification: Crossing the reunification finish line to regain capacity and help more children and families
Permanency for kids, is one of the most risky and critical decisions made in all of government and getting to the finish line is a laborious process with thousands of factors that will influence the time it takes to get there. But when we are there, our research shows we don't run through the finish line, in fact, our system has a propensity to start walking or even crawling at this phase when in fact, we should be sprinting once a permanency decision has been made.
The new promise of CCWIS is to build systems that support and coach and help caseworkers move the work.