On Tuesday, June 28 the Child Welfare League America and the National Association of Social Workers cosponsored a briefing on the child welfare workforce.  The briefing entitled, Let’s Improve Child Welfare Outcomes: The Workforce Matters, provided background on what it takes to perform some of the critical work within the child welfare field.

Panelists included Helen Cahalane, University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work, Barry Chaffkin, Fostering Change for Children and Brandi Stocksdale, Baltimore City Department of Social Services.  The presentation also included comments by Jenny Wood, from the Administration on Children Youth and Families who was representing Commissioner Rafael Lopez.

Opening and closing remarks were provided by Christine James Brown, President and CEO of Child Welfare League of America with closing remarks by Angelo McClain, CEO, National Association of Social Workers.  CWLA is in the process of updating the workforce standards addressing strategies around the caseload and workload requirements and best practices.

This briefing is part of continuing effort to educate key policymakers about the importance of a well-trained, educated and staffed workforce within child welfare.  The Administration through the proposed FY 2017 budget and other efforts has proposed strategies to strengthen the workforce.

Helen Cahalan discussed her work at the University of Pittsburg and how that institution has used federal child welfare funding in the training and research.  That training, research and technical assistance has been provided through a partnership between the University and the state of Pennsylvania.  That Center is partially funded by Title IV-E and Title IV-B. It services include training, conducting research and evaluation and developing tools, materials, and other resources.

Barry Chaffkin discussed his work through the creation of a Children’s Corp conducted through the efforts of the nonprofit, Fostering Change for Children based in New York City.  Chaffkin presented information on how that agency’s Children’s Corp program works, the progress and the research so far and how they look to advance this impressive initiative.  He discussed the strategy used as part of the initiative and who makes the best workers.

Brandy Stocksdale discussed her career in the Baltimore City Department of Social Services as a worker and then later as a supervisor. She described her experiences as a new worker and the kind of support that was available and how it can make a difference.  Brandy also discussed the significance of the supervision and her leadership.

Jenny Wood discussed the unveiling of a new technical assistance center that will be starting soon.  That center will facilitate research and evaluation of workforce proposals and strategies within child welfare.  She also discussed the Administration’s budget proposal that would create expanded use of Title IV-E training funds to obtaining either a BSW or MSW degree. The proposal eliminates a complex formula in how states draw down training dollars. There would be an enhanced Title IV-E match for BSW/MSW caseworkers.

The briefing was coordinated through the assistance of Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth and the Congressional Social Work Caucus.