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New CalSWEC Employee 'Passionate' about TDM

Who: Joanne Pritchard, M.A., National University, Fresno; B.A., California State University, Fresno

Currently: Training and Curriculum Specialist, CalSWEC; instructor, UC Davis – Resource Center for Family-Focused Practice;  Adjunct Faculty, Madera Center and Willow International Center, State Center Community College District

More about Ms. Pritchard: Ms. Pritchard was a social worker and social work supervisor in the Fresno County Department of Social Services. She provided coaching support, curriculum development for training modules, and supervision of social workers in the Team Decision Making (TDM) unit. She also supervised social workers and support staff in Family Reunification, Visitation Services, and Parenting.

CalSWEC News:  You have been both a social work practitioner and a social work supervisor; how did you make that transition?
Ms. Prichard:
I was very fortunate to have a field-based trainer from Central California Training Academy who met with me on a bi-weekly basis for almost the first 6 months. She was a wonderful source of support. She provided coaching, feedback, and helpful resources. With her assistance, I learned how to be a better supervisor for my staff—giving them tools and skills to grow professionally, rather than giving them the easy answer. It’s very powerful to see others finding their way and being confident in their work.

CN: You have extensive experience in team decision making (TDM). Tell us about your interest in this area.
Ms. Prichard:
I was one of the original TDM facilitators in Fresno County when Family to Family was introduced. I remember learning about TDM and thinking, “Yes! This is the kind of social work I want to do.” It is a very respectful and inclusive process with families and youth in a truly strength-based manner. I have witnessed first-hand how this strategy is beneficial for families. It shifted the practice from the social worker being the expert to the family being the expert on themselves. I believe teaming is the best approach for working with families. I am passionate about TDM and I’ve been privileged to be part of the training team at UC Davis promoting TDM model fidelity and its integration with other practices in child welfare.

CN: Tell us about your interest and experience in implementation science, and how implementation science impacts social work.
Ms. Prichard:
I was introduced to implementation science as part of the CAPP grant. I had been part of prior trainings for staff and often wondered why the practice we had trained on didn’t fully take root within the agency. It could be a frustrating experience.

After learning about the successful elements for implementation, it completely made sense. People weren’t necessarily being resistant; we just hadn’t given them the coaching, support, or opportunity for feedback after the training to help them really master the new practice. The feedback loop is critical to the process, as it allows the system to make adaptations and changes necessary to support the work.

I believe that many aspects of implementation science parallel the work social workers do with their families. It’s not just about learning something new—it’s about how to apply what is learned to make actual changes in day-to-day life. Social workers become the coaches for families—listening, making changes when needed, and helping them to develop skills. Implementation science gives us a framework for creating sustainable change both in child welfare and in the lives of families.