Workforce Development Toolkit Background and Context

Background and Context


The Workforce Development tools help counties translate the Core Practice Model to on-the-ground practice. This includes tools related to new employee screening and selection, supervision and coaching, and assessing practice behaviors for staff and leadership focused on the following:

  • Screening and selection – how do we hire people who have the right values and bring a skill set that will easily facilitate their use of the practice behaviors?
  • Training – how do we ensure all staff receive orientation to CPM, and how do we embed CPM within other internal trainings?
  • Coaching – how do we ensure staff, supervisors, managers and leaders receive coaching to translate the practice and leadership behaviors to actual practice? How do we use practice profiles and leadership profiles to assess staff's and leaders' current level of practice?
  • Modeling – how do we ensure leaders, managers and supervisors are modeling the leadership behaviors to provide a critical parallel process for how they want staff to work with families?

Goals for the Toolkit

The Workforce Development tools are aimed at helping develop the workforce at all levels as counties implement the CPM.

Screening & Selection Tools: Tools developed to support candidate self-selection into child welfare positions, and to assist in the agency selection process.

Practice Profiles: The profiles include Leadership and Social Worker Practice Profiles, and allow for staff, in partnership with their supervisor, to assess or scale where they are in their development of the use of the behaviors and what steps they might take to move their development positively. These profiles can be helpful during coaching/supervision at all levels of the organization.

Training and Coaching Tools: Tools developed to ensure staff, at all levels of the organization, are achieving the Values, Practice Elements, Casework Components and Practice Behaviors of CPM are as follows. These include:

Supervision/Coaching Guide (2 Versions): The Supervision/Coaching Guide is a form that supervisors can use in regular supervision meetings with their staff. It is intended to help supervisors keep the focus of supervision and coaching on staff's application and demonstration of the CPM Practice Behaviors. It also aligns with the Practice Profiles by bringing directly into coaching/supervision the process of assessing with staff their developmental use of CPM practice. Two different versions are available.

Supervisor coaching of staff is critical to front-line implementation of CPM. It is recommended that managers discuss with their supervisors how supervisors will use the Supervision/Coaching Guide to engage in coaching conversations with staff about their use of the Practice Behaviors, in accordance with local models and expectations for coaching.

Supervisor One-Pagers: This set of tools is intended to help serve as a practical bridge between the Values, Practice Elements, Casework Components and Practice Behaviors of the CPM and child welfare supervisory practice. Each document lays out concrete steps that support best practice in child welfare supervision and help supervisors ensure and assess with staff, their use and application of the CPM Values, Practice Elements, Casework Components and Practice Behaviors. Each of the five separate one-pagers also show Safety Organized Practice tools and strategies that support that specific practice element/behavior; these can be modified for local practice by counties not implementing SOP.

Social Worker & Leadership Practice Behavior One-Pagers: These documents are user-friendly formats of the Practice Behaviors for social workers and Leadership Behaviors for supervisors, managers and directors. They are intended to serve as a tool that child welfare social workers, supervisors, managers and directors can keep close at hand to remind themselves of the CPM behaviors and assess their own use of these behaviors.

It is suggested that counties may use these as a resource to help them focus as team on skill-building around a particular Practice or Leadership Behavior; for example, one month, the team could focus on practicing Foundational Behaviors, the next on Engagement, and so on.

CPM Leadership Behaviors for Promoting Workforce Development

Be open, honest, clear and respectful in your communications

  • Be transparent about your role and responsibilities and expectations of the agency.

Create a learning environment

  • Demonstrate commitment to the professional development of staff by providing opportunities for staff to gain new knowledge and skills through multiple strategies (training, coaching, and leadership opportunities)
    • Directors: Ensure staff at all levels have the training, coaching, and system support needed to consistently use the practice model.
  • Create a learning environment in which mistakes are seen as opportunities to learn and grow.
  • Foster a culture of thinking about the work, trying new things and new approaches for everyone that will make the agency more efficient and effective.
  • Pause and take time to use the practice model to guide response and interaction even in times of crisis.

Show that you care

  • Demonstrate that you hear and care about the thoughts and experiences of staff and stakeholders (children, families, community members, and Tribes) as they implement and sustain the CPM by establishing feedback loops and regular mechanisms to report progress and outcomes.
  • Communicate hope and understanding by listening to staff challenges and engaging in solution-focused strategies to work together to solve problems.
  • Show compassion and provide support and encouragement by listening to staff at all levels in the organization to hear their successes, concerns/worries and ideas about implementing, supporting, and sustaining the model.
    • Supervisors: Provide a mechanism for unit staff to voice their challenges and successes with CPM and share those challenges and success with managers and directors

Recognize staff strengths and successes

  • Create regular opportunities to affirm agency organizational strengths and the efforts of staff and partners in their daily work.
  • Foster leadership by staff at all levels, helping them recognize and gain confidence in their strengths.
    • Supervisors: Foster leadership of staff, helping them recognize and gain confidence in their strengths, for example, by providing opportunities in unit meetings to share some of the successful outcomes of their casework and the casework skills they utilized.
    • Managers: Foster leadership of staff, helping them recognize and gain confidence in their strengths, for example, by providing opportunities to take on lead assignments that demonstrate their skills and abilities such as meeting with community stakeholders to describe CPM.
    • Directors: Foster leadership of staff, helping them recognize and gain confidence in their strengths, for example, by providing opportunities to share their experience and mentor new managers.

Seek feedback

  • Seek out and invite in input from staff in the organization:
    • Supervisors: Hold regular supervision meetings with staff to review casework for fidelity to the CPM and to actively seek input and develop solutions for issues that impact the social worker's ability to work effectively with children, youth and families.
    • Managers: Hold regular supervision meetings with supervisors to review their unit's work and to actively seek input and develop solutions for issues that impact the ability of their unit to work effectively within the Division and with children, youth, and families.
    • Directors: Hold regular supervision meetings with managers to review the work of their division and to actively seek input and develop solutions for issues that impact the ability of their division to effectively deliver services to children, youth and families consistent with the CPM.

Advocate for resources

  • Advocate for the resources needed to support and develop staff:
    • Supervisors: Provide information to management about gaps in staffing and necessary resources needed to implement CPM.
    • Managers: Provide information to executive leadership regarding staffing gaps to support requests for additional resources to fill the gaps.
    • Directors: Become a champion for the CPM by advocating for resources to support CPM practices and working to establish policies and practices that eliminate barriers for staff.
    • Directors: In partnership with the implementation team, review planning goals and timeframes for training, coaching, policy, and practice change so that expectations for staff are clear and realistic.

Listen and provide feedback

  • Meet with the workforce regularly and frequently to hear concerns and address them in a transparent manner, using a defined process and demonstrating actions taken to address concerns.
    • Supervisors: Provide information from staff to management.
    • Managers: Inform executive leadership of the needs of the Division.
    • Directors: Have a communication plan for ongoing dialogue with all Department staff and provide clear, frequent communication to the whole organization and be open to input.

Hold each other accountable

  • Support staff and hold each other accountable for sustaining the practice model by holding regular supervision meetings at all levels, and including practice behaviors in performance evaluation, professional development, coaching and mentoring activities, and progressive discipline.
    • Supervisors: Use supervision and coaching to address casework practices that are inconsistent with the CPM.
    • Supervisors: Provide tools that help staff understand the link between the CPM and what is expected of them in their casework; use these expectations in supervision meetings, unit meetings, and performance reviews.
    • Managers: Provide regular updates or reports to stakeholders and partners as appropriate.
    • Directors: Provide regular updates to agency partners and the Board of Supervisors as appropriate.

Monitor organizational effectiveness

  • Identify and implement a transparent process to monitor for staffing gaps and plan organizational changes to ensure staff can meet demands of caseloads.
    • Supervisor: Review casework through individual supervision meetings and tracking logs, and provide information at unit meetings and at division meetings to transparently develop recommendations for the manager and director about the work in the unit and the need for staffing increases or workload modification
    • Manager: Review workload of the division through regular supervision and division meetings, review staffing and caseloads through tracking logs, and work to balance caseload by fair distribution of case assignments and by informing the director of needed staffing increases.
    • Director: Review the workload of the Department through regular supervision and through review of reports submitted outlining workload and staffing needs.

Monitor practice effectiveness

  • Identify and implement a transparent process to monitor for practice model fidelity and effectiveness.
    • Supervisor: Gather information from staff and families about the quality of services delivered.
    • Supervisors: Use tracking tools to follow practice model fidelity and outcomes on families being served by the staff in their unit.
    • Managers: Develop and track measures that evaluate fidelity to and effectiveness of CPM.
    • Directors: Accept responsibility for the implementation of CPM
    • Directors: Monitor fidelity to and outcomes of CPM, and adjust implementation processes as needed.