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.
The current state of licensed foster families in the United States could be better, as there is a decrease in available homes. Licensing agencies must increase the capacity of licensing specialists to provide continuous support and simplify the licensing process to increase the number of licensed homes.
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 A change that will allow the heroes we celebrate to shine, unencumbered by complicated, outdated processes.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.
You Can’t Hire Your Way Out of the Staff Turnover Crisis: Addressing the Realities of Staff Turnover Through Process
Turnover is an unprecedented challenge that threatens the well-being of children. But staff is hard to find, harder to retain, and we are hiring back into the same systems that haven’t addressed fundamental challenges that have existed for decades. The only way to improve this reality to rethink our approach.
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.
For more than a year we shifted work to a virtual platform out of necessity, and as we safely return to in-person activities it would be easy to sprint as fast as possible back to “the way we did things before COVID-19”. But, what if instead of sprinting we took the time to pause and reflect? Perhaps some of our new virtual practices make child welfare better.
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.