• September 2018
  • Vol. 19, No. 7

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Beyond Case Management: Improving Caseworker Skills

Due to time constraints, policies, and other considerations, child welfare caseworkers often are relegated to conducting case management activities rather than engaging in more clinically oriented activities with children and families. An article in the Journal of Children's Services explores how child welfare systems can better equip caseworkers to use clinical interventions in their practice. It includes three examples of initiatives to improve caseworker skills being implemented with the University of Maryland (UMD) School of Social Work and other partners:

  • National Center on Evidence-Based Practice in Child Welfare: The center uses two programs to support the capacity of the child welfare and mental health systems. It uses the Partnering for Success model to enhance the systems' ability to jointly assess and improve themselves. The center also teaches professionals from both systems about the use of a variety of cognitive-behavioral therapy interventions, with mental health professionals learning more about the clinical application and child welfare professionals focusing on learning core components and how to support families involved in those treatments.
  • Motivational interviewing: M.S.W. students with a public child welfare focus in the UMD School of Social Work are taught motivational interviewing skills. They receive instruction in a didactic environment and then are able to practice their skills with actors while being observed by a motivational interviewing supervisor and classmates, which allows for immediate feedback.
  • Training related to adoption and mental health: The UMD School of Social Work and the Center for Adoption Support and Education developed an online training to enhance the adoption competency skills of child welfare and mental health professionals. The training focuses on the clinical issues related to adoption (e.g., attachment, loss) rather than policy and processes.

"Equipping the child welfare workforce to improve the well-being of children," by Richard P. Barth, Bethany R. Lee, and Mary T. Hodorowicz" (Journal of Children's Services, 12), is available at https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/JCS-05-2017-0017

Related Item

The Children's Bureau produced the podcast, "Collaborating Between Child Welfare and Mental Health," which features a group discussion focused on the Partnering for Success model. The Partnering for Success approach trains mental health and child welfare professionals together and emphasizes the fundamentals of assessments, evidence-based practices, and work processes. The discussion also focuses on the value of professional collaboration in clinically informed case management.

The podcast is available at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/child-welfare-podcast-collaborating-between-cw-mental-health.

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