Principle: Caseworkers’ intensive authentic engagement with children, youth and families to ensure safety, permanency and well-being.
The relationship that exists between the caseworker and birth family is one that at its core is based genuineness, empathy and respect. Over the last ten years there has been a shift in practice to a family-centered approach in which caseworkers work with the family as a unit to strengthen their capacity to function effectively. The perspective of practice has moved from one of viewing families as recipients of services to being partners in change. Family-centered practitioners partner with families to use expert knowledge throughout the decision and goal making processes providing individualized, culturally-responsive, and relevant services for each family. Family-centered interventions assist in mobilizing resources to maximize communication, shared planning, and collaboration among the several community and/or neighborhood systems that are directly involved in the family.
One Family/One Worker
New Jersey has implemented One Family/One Worker that emphasizes families having continuity in caseworkers and fostering trust and engagement between the family and the caseworker. Following the completion of the investigation of reported child abuse or neglect, the intake worker refers the family to the permanency social worker. The permanency social worker works with the family through the permanency hearing. When reunification is the permanency goal, the permanency workers continues to work with the family; when adoption is the permanency goal, the child and family are referred to an adoption social worker. Worker continuity has been found to benefit families – more timely permanence and increased rates of reunification – and caseworkers – higher morale and increased accountability.
New Jersey Department of Children and Families Case Practice Model:
Contact: Lisa von Pier, Deputy Director for Case Practice, Lisa.vonPier@dcf.state.nj.us
Solution Based Casework: The Family Centered Child Welfare Practice Model of Kentucky
Solution Based Casework is a child welfare practice model that uses an approach to assessment, case planning, and ongoing casework management that forms a partnership with the family to target specific everyday events in family life that 1) have caused the family difficulty and 2) represent a situation in which at least one family member cannot reliably maintain behavior that the family needs to accomplish its goals. The collaborative model combines the best of problem focused relapse prevention approaches that evolved from work with addiction, violence, and helplessness (Marlatt & Gordon, 1985; Pithers, 1990), with solution-focused models that evolved from family systems casework and family therapy (Berg, 1994; deShazer, 1988). By integrating the two approaches, partnerships between family, caseworker, and service providers can be developed that account for basic needs and restore the family’s pride in their own competence. Solution-Based Casework (known in Kentucky as Family Solutions) was developed in cooperation with protection workers and supervisors in the Cabinet for Families and Children, Commonwealth of Kentucky. See Christensen, D., Todahl, J., & Barrett, B. (1999). Solution-Based Casework: An Introduction to Clinical and Case Management Skills in Casework Practice. New York: Transpublishing/Aldine De Gruyter. The practice model is used in Tennessee and has recently been adopted by Washington state. This practice model has been and continues to be evaluated with promising results (see Antle, Barbee & van Zyl, 2009; Antle, Barbee & Christensen, in press; Antle, Christensen, Barbee & Martin, 2008, Antle, Sullivan, Barbee & Christensen, in press; Martin, Barbee, Antle, Sar & Hanna, 2002 and van Zyl, Antle, & Barbee, in press).
The Multiple Response System (MRS) is North Carolina's systems reform effort, begun as a pilot in ten counties in 2002 and now implemented statewide. The MRS is founded upon the principles of family-centered practice. These principles are that:
- Everyone desires respect,
- Everyone needs to be heard,
- Everyone has strengths,
- Judgments can wait,
- Partners share power,
- Partnership is a process
There are many documents and resources at the above site, including this chart that shows the application of the six Family-Centered Principles of Partnership; through the seven strategic components of MRS, and a more in-depth introduction to the seven key strategies.
Quality outcomes are most often realized when children and families are engaged with a service organization offering an array of services by qualified and committed staff. It is the aim of Practice Model to create such an environment - staffed by the best child welfare professionals in the nation.
The Practice Model Development Team worked hard to incorporate the suggestions that came from staff and our community partners into the following set of principles.
Principle One - Protection. Children's safety is paramount; children and adults have a right to live free from abuse.
Principle Two - Development. Children and families need consistent nurturing in a healthy environment to achieve their developmental potential.
Principle Three - Permanency. All children need and are entitled to enduring relationships that provide a family, stability, belonging, and a sense of self that connects children to their past, present, and future.
Principle Four - Cultural Responsiveness. Children and families are to be understood within the context of their own family rules, traditions, history, and culture.
Principle Five - Partnership. The entire community shares the responsibility to create an environment that helps families raise children to their fullest potential.
Principle Six - Organizational Competence. Committed, qualified, trained, and skilled staff, supported by an effectively structured organization, helps ensure positive outcomes for children and families.
Principle Seven - Professional Competence. Children and families need a relationship with an accepting, concerned, empathetic worker who can confront difficult issues and effectively assist them in their process toward positive change.
Practice Model Skills Development
A set of key practice skills has been formulated from the Practice Model Principles to "Put Our Values Into Action." The training on the Practice Model will provide for the development of these practice skills. These basic skills are:
Engaging. The skill of effectively establishing a relationship with children, parents, and essential individuals for the purpose of sustaining the work that is to be accomplished together.
Teaming. The skill of assembling a group to work with children and families, becoming a member of an established group, or leading a group may all be necessary for success in bringing needed resources to the critical issues of children and families. Child welfare is a community effort and requires a team.
Assessing. The skill of obtaining information about the salient events that brought the children and families into our services and the underlying causes bringing about their situations. This discovery process looks for the issues to be addressed and the strengths within the children and families to address these issues. Here we are determining the capability, willingness, and availability of resources for achieving safety, permanence, and well-being for children.
Planning. The skill necessary to tailor the planning process uniquely to each child and family is crucial. Assessment will overlap into this area. This includes the design of incremental steps that move children and families from where they are to a better level of functioning. Service planning requires the planning cycle of assessing circumstances and resources, making decisions on directions to take, evaluating the effectiveness of the plan, reworking the plan as needed, celebrating successes, and facing consequences in response to lack of improvement.
Intervening. The skill to intercede with actions that will decrease risk, provide for safety, promote permanence, and establish well-being. These skills continue to be gathered throughout the life of the professional child welfare worker and may range from finding housing to changing a parent's pattern of thinking about their child.
An Introduction to the Practice Model Framework:
A Working Document Series
The National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement, in collaboration with the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Family Centered Practice and Permanency Planning, is in the process of developing a framework to help child welfare agencies and Tribal social service programs develop and implement a comprehensive, written, and articulated practice model. The Practice Model Framework series will focus on the approach to practice that the Children's Bureau promotes -- child welfare practice that is child-focused, family-centered, individualized to meet specific needs of the children and families served, enhanced to strengthen parental capacity, community-based, culturally responsive, outcome oriented, and collaborative. This working document is intended to provide the information learned thus far, provide up-dates on the plan for and direction of the project, and spark discussion and feedback on this topic.
University of Denver Institute for Families
Perspectives on Practice, 1(2), 2005
Describes strategies for developing a rapport with families from other cultures, fathers, and teens, and reviews the importance of client-worker collaboration to the success of assessments and services.
|Curriculum Resources (Accessible Online)
The Pennsylvania Child Welfare Training Program (Multiple Trainings)
The Pennsylvania Child Welfare Training Program website offers a variety of training curriculum relevant to family engagement, including but not limited to the following: Introduction to Family Group Decision Making (FGDM) Parts 1 and 2, Engaging Absent Fathers, and Effective Interviewing in the Case Planning Process.
Kinship Care Practice Curriculum Materials
This training curriculum by The Kinship Care Practice Project prepares child welfare caseworkers to engage family members of children in the custody of the child welfare system in development of a permanent plan for the child. The training curriculum is comprised of an introduction and six learning units. Each unit contains learning goals, a discussion section that can be used as a lecture guide or distributed as a reading assignment, a reference list, learning activities and resources, and full-page handouts that can also be duplicated as overhead transparencies. The training videos that accompany the manual are available for download.
Parent Leadership Ambassador Training Guide
This training guide by Circle of Parents & FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention explains the continuum of parent involvement/engagement/empowerment and agency actions that promote such engagement and discusses an action planning process for ensuring parent involvement and leadership.
Family Engagement in Case Planning and Case Management
These training materials by CalSWEC are divided into two main sections: the Trainer’s Guide and the Trainee’s Guide. The Trainer’s Guide includes tips and guidance for the trainer to structure and prepare for the training. Both guides are available by individual components (in Microsoft Word format) or as an entire document (in PDF format). The core competencies outlined for trainees are: The trainee will understand the dynamics of engaging families in a mutual family assessment, and comprehensive case planning that includes an assessment of risk/safety factors, underlying contributing factors to maltreatment, and extensive exploration of family strengths and resources; The trainee will develop with the family appropriate, time limited case goals and objectives, and formulate observable, behavioral measures of these goals and objectives, and outline all parties’ agreed upon roles, responsibilities, and activities within required time frames; The trainee will value the importance of engaging and collaborating with the family and their resources in strength-based, culturally competent ways towards developing a comprehensive, family-specific assessment and case plan.
Family Group Decision Making Models for Social Workers in the Child Welfare Setting
This curriculum from the California Social Work Education Center introduces the Family Group Decision-Making (FGDM) model of working with families in child welfare and is based on a core belief that within families lies the wisdom to find solutions to protect their own children and resolve other issues of concern. In addition to lecture content, modules include instructional guides and suggestions, interactive exercises, topics for discussions, video and other resource suggestions, and a pre- and posttest instrument with answer sheet. An appendix of handouts, workshop evaluation form, references, and list of information sources and resources are included.
Family Team Meeting Training – Participant’s Guide and Trainer’s Guide Outline
Curriculum materials from the Georgia Division of Family & Children Services.
Engaging Child Welfare Families: A Solution-Based Approach to Child Welfare Work
Handout by Dana N. Christensen, PhD & Becky Antle, PhD from a May 2006, National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement teleconference on Solution Based Casework and family engagement.
Practice Guidelines for Family-Centered Meetings
These practice guidelines are intended to supplement the North Carolina Division of Social Services overall policy for Child and Family Team Meetings (CFTs) and Shared Parenting Meetings (SPMs). Information is provided on the principles and purposes of family-centered meetings (FCMs), and the benefits of FCMs. Principles are then paired with specific applications, and the following five phases of FCMs are described: the social worker talks with the key family members about having a meeting, the social worker makes a referral, the worker prepares the family and other professionals for the meeting, a neutral individual facilitates the meeting or depending on the circumstances, sometimes the worker serves as facilitator, and the social worker follows up and monitors the service agreement as it is carried out. A list of issues that must be addressed during the preparation phase of a FCM is given and guidelines are explained for ensuring the safety of FCM participants. Finally, the roles of different participants, strategies for making sure children are heard at meetings, and the structure of FCM are addressed. A form for evaluating a FCM is attached.
Basic Fatherhood Training Curriculum
The National Family Preservation Network is pleased to present the first-of-its-kind Basic Fatherhood Training Curriculum.
NFPN is making this curriculum available to anyone interested in engaging and involving fathers in their children’s lives. While the curriculum is aimed primarily at working with the non-custodial father not living with his children, the policies and principles can be used by anyone who works with fathers.
Father Involvement in the Child Welfare System
This bibliography was compiled by the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect and National Adoption Information Clearinghouse in September 2005. For new titles added to the Clearinghouse database, click here and search the term “Fatherhood”..
Iowa has developed practice tips for caseworkers.
Father Involvement in Child Welfare
The December 2005 issue of "Children's Services Practice Notes" examines ways that practitioners and their agencies can improve the way they work with fathers. Practice Notes is sponsored by the N.C. Division of Social Services and produced by the Family and Children's Resource Program, part of the Jordan Institute for Families at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work.
Permanency Planning Today, Spring 2009
- From the Desk of the Director
- New Mexico’s Ice Breakers for Foster and Birth Parents (Reprinted from Children’s Bureau Express)
- Familyconnect Guides: Putting the Pieces of Family Visits Together
- Immigrants and Refugees: The Intersection of Migration and Child Welfare (From a Webcast Interview with Dr. Ilze Earner and Dr. Alan Dettlaff)
- Highlights from An Introduction to the Practice Model Framework (Adapted from Document by NRCOI and NRCPFC)
- Addressing Racial Disproportionality in the Child Welfare System (An Interview with Joyce James, Assistant Commissioner, Texas CPS)
- Listening to Parents (Youshell Williams, Reprinted from Rise Magazine)
- Willing to Listen (Sylvia Perez, Reprinted from Rise Magazine)
- Tidbits from the States