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Iowa Center for Evaluation & Research
DMC Resource Center






Child welfare

The NRCFCP offers training for public and private child welfare workers, supervisors and program managers.  We tailor training for agency needs.  Here are some of our offerings (click on the titles for details):

Engaging Youth and Families for Safety, Permanency and Child Well-Being

Family-Centered Assessment Training

Family-Centered Assessment with Immigrant and Refugee Families

Conducting Family-Focused Child Protection Investigations

Strength-Based Case Planning

Developing an Outcome-Based Case Plan

Solution-Focused Case Management

Intensive Family Services

Family-Centered Reunification Training

Family Group Decision Making: A Decision Model that Strengthens Families

Fathers in Child Welfare: Welcoming Dads into the Circle of Family Centered Practice

Working Effectively with Substance Affected Families

Clinical Issues in Child Welfare

Family Centered Practice with Children with Mental Health or Behavioral Disorders

Breaking through Barriers to Permanency

Safe Case Closure in Child Welfare Cases

Legal Skills for the Child Welfare Professional

Keeping the Help in the Helping Profession

Youth-Specific Child Welfare Trainings:  

Incorporating Resilience Factors into the Assessment Process with Youth 

Transition from Residential Treatment Back Home: A Solution-Focused Approach  

Youth Centered Team Meetings  

Permanent Connections for Youth in Out-of-Home Care

Training for Child Welfare Supervisors:

Improving Recruitment and Retention in Public Child Welfare (see Recruitment and Retention)

Engaging Youth and Families for Safety, Permanency and Child Well-being

This course teaches skills in building and maintaining relationships and empathy with individuals and family groups.  Students will practice verbal, non-verbal and contextual family engagement techniques. Students will learn how to build trust, work with resistance, and avoid triangulation and splitting.  Engagement with parents with mental health issues will also be addressed.
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Family-Centered Assessment Training
This strength-based training is for supervisors and workers in agencies committed to family-centered practice. Participants develop techniques to identify strengths. They also learn to use basic systematic tools to analyze family and community dynamics, in order to understand the current family situation and the family's possibilities for the future. Risk is explored as an ongoing consideration, with strength identification and assessment presented as the mechanisms for determining and working with short and long-term risk stabilization. The integration of solution-focused and family-systems approaches are explored, with considerable attention placed on applying assessment information to a measurable case plan. This skill-based training involves spending considerable time practicing assessment on participants' case examples.
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Family-Centered Assessment with Immigrant and Refugee Families
This training focuses on major areas that must be considered in the assessment of immigrant and refugee families. Some of the issues explored include: reasons for immigration, immigration status, language issues, cultural taboos, literacy level, educational attainment, and trauma. Participants develop skills to identify strengths, and learn to use basic systematic tools to analyze family and community dynamics in order to understand the current family situation and the family's possibilities for the future.
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Conducting Family-Focused Child Protection Investigations
This training was designed specifically for Child Protective Service Agencies that are trying to move toward a differential response system of investigation. The goals of a family-centered investigation include: engaging the family, making decisions on safety based on a differential assessment of the family situation, and developing a measurable safety plan. While information on the specific incident that brought the family to the attention of the agency is important, the focus of the investigation must include the family’s willingness and ability to provide a safe environment for the child (ren) in the immediate and long-term future. Investigators must be able to efficiently use some basic assessment tools that will allow them to make accurate decisions, and this training helps them do so.
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Strength-Based Case Planning
This training helps workers focus on families' strengths, rather than on their deficits. It also teaches the skills necessary to develop and implement a strength-based case plan for intervention. The approach is consistent with a family-centered philosophy, and shares the decision-making process of case planning and implementation with the family. This practical training focuses on the philosophy of this approach and the interviewing techniques necessary to engage and empower the family.
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Developing an Outcome-Based Case Plan
This strength-based training is for supervisors and workers in agencies committed to family-centered practice. Participants learn ways to engage families in treatment and to formulate outcome-based case plans utilizing family strengths to assure family progress toward change. The training focuses on applying assessment information to a plan that is behavioral-specific, able to measure change, culturally competent, and realistic/attainable. Participants practice developing plans for cases familiar to them.
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Solution-Focused Case Management
This training will present participants with a family-centered case management model based on solution-focused theory and interviewing skills. Topics include: The five elements of family centered case management, the assisting relationship, social economy and the value of systemic assessment tools, change theory, solution focused interviewing skills, outcome based behavior specific case plans, and using outcome indicators as measures of progress.


Participants in this training become familiar with family systems and theory, and the goals of family-centered practice. They learn how to use basic diagnosis tools to analyze family and community dynamics, engage families in treatment, identify behavioral goals, assure family progress toward change, concurrently plan, and effectively terminate services. Accurate assessment and application to the case plan are critical for the success of families under the time lines of ASFA, and the training addresses these issues.
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Intensive Family Services
Supervisors and intensive treatment workers learn a comprehensive model of family assessment and a brief, structural and strategic approach to working with multiple-needs families and their communities. Participants are introduced to advanced skills in the treatment of chemical dependency, and spouse and child abuse. This course is not designed as a substitute for clinical training with supervision, yet introduces sophisticated family therapy methods to form a sound foundation for further work.
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Family-Centered Reunification Training
This 2-3 day training is for residential providers, foster care workers, and family-based therapists. It focuses on various methods of supporting family connections during separation, transition, and reunification. Participants learn to conduct a structured family meeting using the family’s support system, and to use tools such as goal-setting and visitation to enhance reunification potential.
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Family Group Decision Making: A Decision Model That Strengthens Families
Family Group Decision Making (FGDM), developed in New Zealand in the mid-1980s, has been adopted by a number of jurisdictions in the United States as a process for engaging families involved in the child welfare system in safety planning, case planning, and reunification decision-making.  FGDM empowers families to define their needs and direct the decision-making processes, and it elicits and solidifies the family's informal as well as community support network.  The NRCFCP offers training and technical assistance in all facets of FGDM and family team meetings (FTM), including establishing an FGDM process in a community, training for facilitators, and training for caseworkers who prepare families for and participate in FGDM/FTMs.  
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Welcoming Fathers into the Circle of Family Centered Practice

Participants will be able to describe the research findings on the important contributions of fathers, including non-residential fathers, to the well-being of children. We will describe best practices for engaging fathers and paternal relatives whose children are involved in the child welfare system, and practice skills for productively addressing conflict between fathers and mothers and the larger family system. Participants will identify any explicit or implicit biases they have about non-residential fathers, how these biases might affect their work with fathers, and how to move beyond them to best practice.  This training can be adapted for agency administrators with a focus on organizational change and development of father-family services.
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Working Effectively with Substance Affected Families  

Participants will learn safety planning with substance affected families, be able to explain to families the various models of understanding and treating substance abuse, explore techniques for engaging families in treatment, including motivational interviewing, court orders, and understanding the stages of change; learn casework strategies for families engaged in the change process (managing service demands, engaging families members to support treatment, etc.); and use a matrix tool to guide permanency decision-making with substance affected families. A DVD demonstration of testifying in court on a substance abuse case will be shown.
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Clinical Issues in Child Welfare

This one day training looks in depth at practice issues and decision-making tools for working with families with mental illness (especially mood, anxiety and personality disorders) and substance abuse.
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Family Centered Practice with Children with Mental Health or Behavioral Disorders

Participants will learn about symptoms and diagnostic categories for common child mental health and behavioral disorders. The focus is on assuring quality assessment and treatment of these issues and supporting birth, foster and adoptive families in a strength based way to support the children’s optimal growth, development and attachment and to sensitively manage transitions between caregivers.
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Breaking through Barriers to Permanency

This workshop looks at the barriers to permanency for children and youth and introduces tools and strategies for systematically addressing these issues in order to achieve timely safety and permanency. Issues explored include: chronic parental conditions such as substance abuse and mental illness, parental ambivalence, working with resistance, child health and mental health issues, family interaction model (visiting, increasing parental responsibility), and permanent connections for older youth.
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Safe Case Closure in Child Welfare Cases

Returning children safely and permanently to their family’s care requires skill in making case closure decisions. Participants will be able to analyze their local organizational and institutional contexts for case closure decisions; describe the elements of critical thinking which should accompany case closure decisions, including common decision errors; Identify the ways in which existing tools and casework strategies can be used to improve case closure decisions; and identify strategies for working with the family team to improve collaborative decision-making regarding case closure.
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Legal Skills for the Child Welfare Professional

Testifying in court and working with lawyers are often among the most stressful activities for child welfare workers. This training, taught by a lawyer with 25 years of child welfare experience, helps workers enhance their understanding of the legal process, including rules of evidence, and to enhance their skills in working with lawyers and testifying in court. Workers have an opportunity to observe and practice testifying skills.
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Keeping the Help in the Helping Profession

Child welfare work is unique in its challenges and rewards.  One of the most cherished qualities necessary for effective work with families -- empathy -- is also one that can make the worker vulnerable.  The causes and symptoms of compassion fatigue, secondary traumatic stress and vicarious traumatization will be introduced, along with self-assessment checklist.   Workers will learn strategies for strengthening personal and social resilience and techniques for self care and health realization. 
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Youth-Specific Trainings:
Incorporating Resilience Factors into the Assessment Process with Youth
This workshop will help participants create a holistic assessment of youth that incorporates not only the "problem" behavior but also the techniques to identify strengths and resiliency factors. Integration of solution-focused and family-systems approaches will be explored, with considerable attention placed on applying assessment information to a measurable case plan.
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Transition from Successful Residential Treatment Back Home: A Solution-Focused Approach
This training focuses on the adolescent transition from residential treatment to home or another alternate living situation. Successful strides made in residential treatment must be integrated into the home or alternate environment. Through the use of problem/solution-focused circular questions, the worker can ascertain the maintenance and reinforcement factors that allowed the youth to do well in treatment, and integrate that success in the home or alternate environment. This training outlines a process that starts "in home" work prior to successful discharge from residential training.
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Youth Centered Team Meetings

A youth-centered approach to case planning places the youth at the helm of planning for his or her future, with support from family, kin and other significant adults.  Come learn how to build and facilitate a dynamic youth-centered team process which will support older youths' capacity for self-determination, a key factor in successful transition to adulthood.
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Permanent Connections for Youth in Out-of-Home Care

Helping older youth in care develop connections with significant adults is a key factor in helping to achieve youth permanency as well as for providing and sustaining support as they enter adulthood.  The training will provide teach specific worker skills and tools for helping youth identify, establish and maintain permanent connections.  Because placement instability often disrupts relationships, strategies for stabilizing placements will also be addressed.
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Training for Child Welfare Supervisors:

Improving Recruitment and Retention in Public Child Welfare (see Recruitment and Retention)


 
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