Comprehensive, Culturally Approriate, and Competency-Based Workforce Development.

Call For Proposals – Workforce Development Conference

Proposal Instructions

Thank you for considering a workshop proposal. All workshops should be aligned with the topics listed below. Topics and descriptions are taken from the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) Workforce Development Framework. Please click on the topic for detailed information.

Please send your proposal to The following must be included:

  • Presenter/Co-Presenter  Name, Title, Organization, E-mail
  • Workforce Development Topic (must be one listed above.)
  • Title of the Presentation
  • Workshop length 75 or 60 minutes.
  • In 100 words or less a description of your workshop
  • At least one learning objective
  • Workshop Modality (i.e. panel, fishbowl, presentation, activity-based)



Community Engagement

Strong formal and informal partnerships across and within communities, based upon mutual respect and trust, support agency efforts to more effectively recruit candidates who reflect the diversity of the community and the populations served by the agency. A workforce skilled in collaborating with community partners on behalf of children, youth, and families promotes reciprocal positive regard, respect, and supportive interactions. Staff who feel valued for their unique voice and supported within a collaborative community network tend to express an intent to stay with the organization. Strategies for improving Community Engagement include: 

  • Implementing a positive media campaign 
  • Developing a teaming approach for including community partners and providers in family assessment and case planning 
  • Cross-systems training around evidence-based practices for stronger collaboration and service delivery 
  • Inviting community members and families, youth, and foster families to meaningfully engage on advisory committees, workgroups, and the like in shared decision-making 
  • Hosting a Community Resource Fair to promote reciprocal education and collaboration and inform community members and families about resources and supportive services 

Inclusivity/ Racial Equity

A diverse and inclusive workplace strengthens the workforce and positively impacts an organization’s ability to provide effective services and supports.  Addressing issues of inclusivity and racial equity occurs as an independent effort as well within all other components. A diverse workforce embraced by inclusivity efforts within the organization supports a series of actions and practices that demonstrate the commitment to improving disparate outcomes for children, youth, and families. Strategies for addressing Inclusivity and Racial Equity include: 

  • Conducting an institutional analysis to identify policies, practices, perceptions, or attitudes that contribute to disparate outcomes 
  • Partnering with members of communities of color and tribal communities to create actions of accountability and sustainability that address root causes of inequities found in an institutional analysis 
  • Partnering with social work programs in colleges and universities serving racially and ethnically diverse students to exchange resources and implement strategies 
  • Offering training and professional development to staff at all levels, emphasizing reflective practices on how racism and implicit bias impact the lives of children and promoting critical thinking on how to address structural racism 
  • Leading, encouraging, and supporting employee racial equity work within and outside the agency by addressing micro-aggressions, harassment, and social exclusion (micro or macro) when they occur and implementing a proactive plan addressing workplace culture and inclusivity expectations 
  • Investing in racial/equity training

Recruitment & Selection

Finding the right person for the right job at the right time requires a concerted, multipronged approach. This component includes a broad range of activities associated with recruitment practices to attract a large, diverse pool of candidates and then selecting the best people using standard and inclusive protocols. Strategies for bolstering Recruitment and Selection include: 

  • Posting announcements on websites or in newspapers intended for diverse job seekers 
  • Using Realistic Job Preview videos to encourage candidates to self-select on entering the applicant pool 
  • Screening candidates and developing competency-based, standardized interviewing processes that minimize the opportunity for implicit bias to impact decision-making 
  • Using hiring procedures that streamline the process and avoid lengthy delays 

Staff selection is the beginning point for building a competent workforce that has the knowledge, skills, and abilities to carry out evidencebased practices with benefits to consumers. Beyond academic qualifications or experience factors, what essential skills are required? Certain practitioner characteristics critical to the use of an evidencebased program are difficult to teach in training sessions so must be part of the selection criteria (e.g. basic professional skills, basic social skills, common sense, empathy, good judgment, knowledge of the field, personal ethics, sense of social justice, willingness to intervene, willingness to learn). Implementation of effective programs on a useful scale requires:

  • Specification of required skills and abilities within the pool of candidates,
  • Methods for recruiting likely candidates that possess these skills and abilities,
  • Protocols for interviewing candidates, and
  • Criteria for selecting practitioners with those skills and abilities. Even when implementation is occurring in an organization with a wellestablished staff group, the new way of work can be described and volunteers can be recruited and interviewed to select the first practitioners to make use of an evidencebased intervention or other innovation. The prepost test scores for training provide an immediate source of selection outcome data, and performance assessment scores provide a more important but longerterm source of feedback on the usefulness of the selection process. Organizations make use of these data to continue to improve recruitment and selection methods.
  1. Accountability for development and monitoring of quality and timeliness of selection services is clear (e.g. lead person designated and supported)
  2. Job description clarity re: accountability and expectations
  3. PreRequisites for employment are related to “new practices” and expectations (e.g. basic group management skills)
  4. Interactive Interview Process Behavioral vignettes and Behavior Rehearsals Assessment of ability to accept feedback Assessment of ability to change own behavior
  5. Interviewers who understand the skills and abilities needed and can assess applicants accurately.
  6. A regular process is in place to feed forwardinterview data to training staff; administrators; coaches (integration)
  7. A regular process is in place to feedback from exit interviews, training data, turnover data, 0pinions of administrators; coaches, and staff evaluation data to evaluate the effectiveness of this Driver Best Practice

Education / Professional Development

Education at universities and colleges generates a pool of workforce candidates with entry-level knowledge, while professional development prepares newly hired staff with the knowledge and skills to do the job and seasoned staff with ongoing skill development and potential for advancement. Determining the educational preparation most relevant for a position also leads to opportunities for partnership with institutions of higher learning. Schools that seek racial equity in educational outcomes for students also contribute to a diverse workforce by successfully recruiting, supporting, preparing, and graduating a diverse student body. Strategies for increasing Education and Professional Development include: 

  • Supporting MSW/BSW traineeship programs that offer social work education for current and future child welfare staff and creating field placement opportunities that facilitate student skill development and experiences 
  • Developing agency-university partnerships that provide pre-service, in-service, and ongoing professional development 
  • Collaborating with Human Resources to offer tuition assistance or other incentives to staff that encourage obtaining educational degrees and certifications that also support organizational goals 
  • Offering a variety of blended learning opportunities for the workforce, including eLearning, classroom events, simulation experiences, and webinars 
  • Providing coaching and mentoring to facilitate the transfer of learning and career development


Quality supervision directly contributes to employee satisfaction and the desire to stay on the job. Supervisors also play a role in how staff experience the organization as a diverse and inclusive workplace. They build clinical skills, offer emotional and social support, provide coaching and feedback, and promote healthy team culture and climate. Through their actions, supervisors model a commitment to best practice and policies, such as meaningfully engaging families and diligently searching for family and kin or adherence to law, such as the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Strategies for enhancing Supervision include: 

  • Providing regular, ongoing supervision using a developmental approach that promotes critical thinking • Engaging in an ongoing process to assess and address performance at the individual, unit, team, and organizational level 
  • Offering coaching and mentoring to supervisors to build skills and encourage career development
  • Conducting learning circles to provide peer support and develop innovative approaches to commonly shared challenges


Effective leadership at all levels enables an organization to identify and operationalize the components of workforce development, engaging the whole organization in the work. Leadership at all levels means that staff in positions from the front line to executive management have the capacity and opportunity to lead in various ways. Leadership Competency Model provides guidance on how to effectively lead in child welfare. Strategies for supporting Leadership include: 

  • Emphasizing the role of leaders at all levels through meaningful leadership opportunities 
  • Practicing adaptive leadership by engaging diverse staff and points of view at all levels in decision-making and problem-solving 
  • Offering ongoing professional development to leaders at all levels through training, expert consultation, coaching, and mentoring 
  • Strengthening leadership and management through a career ladder that includes selection procedures resulting in diversity and inclusion 
  • Building a leadership pipeline by creating equitable career progression opportunities for frontline staff and planning for succession


Child welfare staff often feel burdened by stress and time pressure that result from a heavy workload. Workload goes beyond the number of cases or the people to supervise and looks at the totality of job requirements, including professional development and internal organizational responsibilities. Staff can often feel overwhelmed by their jobs due to the complexities of providing effective child welfare services and supports for children, youth, and families. Strategies for easing Workload include: 

  • Establishing caseload guidelines or policies for units that realistically reflect the job demands 
  • Assessing and improving case-flow processes using Theory of Constraints or other systems to identify systemic barriers and improving limiting factors or bottlenecks 
  • Offering flexible equitable scheduling options such as telecommuting, compressed workweeks, and job sharing 
  • Teaming of cases to share the responsibilities and provide more constant coverage

Work Conditions & Benefits

Staff at all levels must receive competitive and equitable salary, compensation, and benefits and have the necessary tools and resources in the office and field to feel safe, supported, and valued as professionals and individuals. Staff need a physically and emotionally safe and secure work environment and the resources to do the job. Benefits involve a wide range of informal and formal programs to address staff stress, respond to trauma, and encourage staff well-being. Strategies for improving Work Conditions and Benefits include: 

  • Offering onsite or partnered programs for equitable usage of culturally responsive self-care and wellness to address the impact of secondary traumatic stress and promote resiliency • Conducting regular compensation studies to ensure salary competitiveness 
  • Including childcare and eldercare information and Employee Assistance Programs that assure confidential services 
  • Assessing staff perceptions and experiences regarding safety in the office and field and developing safety protocols and procedures and risk management procedures

Practice Supports

Child welfare organizations may employ a variety of practices to engage families and provide services, typically focusing on strength-based approaches. An organization should continually assess the changing needs of the children, youth, and families and implement evidence-based or evidence-informed best practices that respond to these needs. Overarching practice supports provide a way to sustain effective provision of services and supports, regardless of the specific practices an organization implements. Practice supports can buttress whatever practice approaches an agency chooses and will help sustain those practices. Specific strategies for developing Practice Supports include: 

  • Creating and employing a defined practice model that provides a road map for the workforce on the core principles, values, and related skills that create the organization’s overall practice approach 
  • Displaying the agency’s vision, mission, and values to remind staff of what guides practice and engaging staff in ongoing discussions about how organizational values occur in daily behaviors and decisions 
  • Conducting and employing a theory of change that leads to the provision of services and supports that meet organizational goals and related outcomes 
  • Using evidence-based practice approaches such as differential response 
  • Improving practice efficiency, such as using the Theory of Constraints and mapping Organizational 

Implementation best practices and science indicate that good training includes ample opportunities for demonstrations of evidence-based practicerelated skills, behavior rehearsal to criterion, and prepost tests of knowledge and skill. The results of the posttests of training are “fedforward” to the coach for each newly trained practitioner. In this way, the coach will know areas of strength and areas that need improvement on which to focus early in the coaching relationship. Organizations make use of these data to continue to improve training methods. 

Implementation Drivers: Assessing Best Practices

  1. Accountability for development and monitoring of quality and timeliness of training services is clear (e.g. lead person designated and supported)
  2. Timely (criteria: Training occurs before the person attempts to or is required to use the new program or practice)
  3. Skillbased Behavior Rehearsals Qualified Rehearsal Leaders who are Content Experts Practice critical interactions skills to feel confident and competent
  4. Trainers have been trained and coached
  5. Outcome data collected and analyzed (pre and post testing) of knowledge and/or skills
  6. Performance assessment measures collected and analyzed related to training (e.g. schedule, content, processes, qualification of trainers)
  7. Feed Forward of pre/post data to Coaches/ Supervisors
  8. Feedback of pre/post data to Selection and Recruitment Best Practice

Culture & Climate

An organization’s culture and climate play a significant role in the ability to attract, recruit, and retain a competent and qualified workforce. Organizational culture explains how the work gets done, while organizational climate provides information about how it feels to work within the organization. A positive organizational climate happens when an individual perceives that they have input in organizational decision-making, problem-solving, and processes; have access to information and resources, and have positive views of the agency’s value of diversity. These factors, along with having the resources needed to do the job, can directly influence job satisfaction and intent to stay and impact service delivery and, ultimately, the achievement of the organization’s mission. Strategies for strengthening Organizational Culture and Climate include: 

  • Conducting a rigorous, structured agency self-assessment exploring staff perceptions (examined by race, ethnicity, age, gender, and position level) and identifying organizational health factors that contribute to, or impede, a positive and constructive organizational culture and climate as part of an ongoing plan for improving organizational climate 
  • Creating an environment that welcomes diverse people, thoughts, and ideas across the agency 
  • Ensuring that staff across the agency have a voice in agency, policy, procedures, and practices and encouraging leadership “from every seat” 
  • Making sure that staff are physically safe in the office and in the field 
  • Engaging in transparent communication at all levels of the organization using various channels such as emails, newsletters, in-person meetings, and the like 
  • Holding formal and informal employee recognition and appreciation events to celebrate achievements and efforts 
  • Helping staff feel “emotionally safe” to make mistakes and voice opinions and engage in courageous conversations 
  • Conducting routine staff satisfaction surveys and involving staff in preparing responses to suggestions and planning for implementation of recommendations 

Training and Coaching Staff

Training is important because evidencebased programs and other innovations represent new ways of providing treatment and support. Innovationbased training helps practitioners (and others) in an organization learn when, where, how, and with whom to use (and not to use) new approaches and new skills. Staff training is an efficient way to:

  • Provide knowledge related to the history, theory, philosophy, and values of the program,
  • Introduce the components and rationales of key practices, and
  • Provide opportunities to practice new skills to criterion and receive feedback in a safe and supportive training environment.

Coaching is essential because most skills needed by successful practitioners can be assessed during selection and introduced in training but really are learned on the job with the help of a coach. An effective coach provides “craft” information along with advice, encouragement, and opportunities to practice and use skills specific to the innovation (e.g. engagement, treatment, clinical judgment). The full and effective use of human service innovations requires behavior change at the practitioner, supervisory, and administrative support levels. Training and coaching are the principal implementation methods in which behavior change is brought about for carefully selected staff in the beginning stages

of implementation and throughout the life of evidencebased practices and programs and other innovations. Organizations make use of data to continue to improve coaching methods. 

Implementation Drivers: Assessing Best Practices

  1. Accountability for development and monitoring of quality and timeliness of coaching services is clear (e.g. there is a lead person who is accountable for assuring coaching is occurring as planned) 
  2. Coaches are fluent in the innovation(s) 3. There is a written Coaching Service Delivery Plan (where, when, with whom, why)
  3. Coaches use multiple sources of information for feedback to practitioners Coaches directly observe practitioners using the innovations(s) (in person, audio, video) Coaches review records to obtain information to inform coaching. Coaching information is obtained from interviews with others associated with the practitioner
  4. Accountability structure and processes for Coaches Adherence to Coaching Service Delivery Plan is regularly reviewed Evidence that practitioners’ abilities to deliver the intervention routinely improve as a result of coaching Implementation Drivers: Assessing Best Practices Multiple sources of information used for feedback to coaches a. Satisfaction surveys from those being coached b. Observations of each coach by an expert/master coach c. Performance (fidelity) Assessments of those being coached are recorded for each coach 6. Coaching data are reviewed and inform improvements of other Drivers (feedback function) Performance Assessment (Fidelity)

Staff Performance Assessment

Performance Assessment is designed to assess the use and outcomes of the skills that are reflected in the selection criteria, taught in training, and reinforced and expanded in coaching processes. Assessments of practitioner performance (sometimes called measures of fidelity) also provide feedback useful to key implementation staff (interviewers, trainers, coaches, program managers) regarding the progress of implementation efforts and the usefulness of selection, training, and coaching methods. For example, organizations consistently monitor current performance assessments in search of common strengths and areas that need improvement to make adjustments in how selection, training, and coaching are conducted to help strengthen skills related to that area. The organization remains accountable for assuring that current and future practitioners will achieve high levels of effective performance when working with children, families, and others. Organizations make use of data to continue to improve Performance Assessment methods. I

Implementation Drivers: Assessing Best Practices   

  1. Accountability for performance assessment measurement and reporting system is clear (e.g. a lead person is designated and supported)
  2. Transparent Processes – Proactive staff orientation to the process and procedures used for performance assessment.
  3. Performance assessment measures are highly correlated with (predictive of) intended outcomes.
  4. Performance assessments are conducted on a regular basis for each practitioner.
  5. The organization has a practical and efficient performance assessment measurement and reporting system
  6. Performance assessment measures extend beyond the measurement of context and content to competence (e.g. competency requires observation).
  7. Use of multiple data sources (e.g. practitioners, supervisors, consumers).
  8. Positive recognition processes in place for participation (e.g. performance assessment is seen as a source of data to improve quality; not a punitive process).
  9. Performance assessments of practitioners are used to assess the effectiveness of coaching.
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