Participant Guide

Module Nine: Workforce Development

Description: Workforce development is the process of recruitment, screening, selection, retention, and training.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the challenges in recruiting and retaining the child welfare workforce. Discuss and describe the workforce landscape and agency workforce needs.
  • Create Workforce development Framework
  • Identify and establish relationships with key workforce organizations to support agency needs--move relationships module
  • Organize and oversee collaboration with key workforce development organizations to support agency needs.

Reading and Activities: 2 to 4 hours

Coaching: 3 hours

Segment #1: Leadership’s role in workforce development

Reading: 1 to 2 hours

Coaching: 1 hour

Learning Objective

Understand the importance of the Director’s role in recruiting and retaining child welfare staff for every level of the organization. Discuss and describe the active steps a director can take to address effective workforce development. In this section, “staff” refers to line staff, support staff, supervisors, and managers.


  • Effective leaders identify the recruitment and retention of excellent staff, whether line staff, supervisors, or managers, as a top priority.
  • Leadership is a primary determinant of staff retention. Workers’ perceptions of leadership are related to their job satisfaction and commitment. CWS agencies can improve worker performance and effectiveness by strengthening the quality of CWS management and leadership.
  • The Director’s vision and the agency’s code of ethics can guide workforce development, i.e., where are we going, who is leading us there, what approach will we take to get there?
  • An effective Director has a long-range recruitment plan which includes (as defined by APHSA 2010):
    1. Examination of the labor market.
    2. Determination about whether compensation and benefits packages are viable.
    3. Guarantees of equal opportunity, cultural sensitivity, competence, and fairness.
    4. Development of a comprehensive understanding of the skills and attributes necessary for child welfare jobs. (See Materials Section for examples of developing a competency-based system that supports the agency from recruitment to performing the job.)
    5. Relationships with colleges and universities to heighten awareness of child welfare work as a career and to ensure colleges and universities produce graduates with necessary skills and attributes.
  • An effective child welfare Director seeks to address the most common reasons positions become or remain vacant, e.g.,
    1. Budget limitations that cause hiring freezes and restrictions.
    2. Slow recruitment/hiring processes because of length of time for administrative approval and getting through hiring system requirements.
    3. Inadequate/unqualified candidates apply for the positions.
    4. Internal reasons, e.g., promotions, retirements, transfers, leaves.
    5. Normal turnover and difficulty in retaining workers.
    6. Non-competitive salaries.
    7. Lack of benefits and overtime compensation.


  1. Review the elements of a long-range recruitment and retention plan as stated above.
    • Does your agency have those elements in place?
    • Meet with your Director, your direct reports about recruitment and retention strategies
    • Meet with your county Human Resources Director to find out what is in place. If a plan is in place, what’s working and what is not? If there is no plan, what needs to happen and how can you get started in putting those elements in place?
  2. Review the reasons stated above that positions become vacant.
    • Which of these reasons apply to your agency?
    • How can you obtain good information about which apply to your agency?
    • What steps can you take to start to address these reasons?
    • Talk with your Director, your direct reports, members of your child welfare line staff and supervisors, and your Human Resource Director to get a full perspective.
  3. Given the importance of all leadership, including managers, in helping to establish the organizational culture and climate, and given the correlation of effective leadership and management to retention of good staff, use the CPM leadership practice profile. (Word PDF) to:
    • assess your managers’ performance
    • develop learning needs plans for each of your managers, and
    • think about their performance and learning needs individually and for the team.

    Some of this work you will have done earlier in this program when you worked on the leadership module.


  1. American Public Human Services Association, 2010. Positioning Public Child Welfare Guidance. Workforce Guidance
  2. Children’s Defense Fund and Children’s Rights, Inc., 2006. Components of an effective child welfare workforce to improve outcomes for children and families.
  3. CPM Leadership Behaviors
  4. Overview of the process to link the Core Practice Model and employee competencies:
  5. Anchors and Competencies:

    Performance Anchors Case-Carrying Supervisor Competency Clusters

    Performance Anchors Non-Case-Carrying Supervisor Competency Clusters

    Performance Anchors Case-Carrying PSW Competency Clusters

    Performance Anchors Non-Case-Carrying PSW Competency Clusters

  6. Performance Appraisal Tool

Preparation for next segment

Become familiar with the California Child Welfare Core Practice Model Workforce Development Circle Toolkit Directory

Segment #2: Workforce Development Framework

Reading and Activities: 1 to 2 hours

Coaching: 1 hour

Learning Objective

Learn how the Core Practice Model (CPM) can provide a framework for all activities related to workforce development


  • The Core Practice Model provides workforce development tools to develop staff at all levels, including tools for new employee screening and selection, supervision and coaching, and assessing practice behaviors for staff and leadership focused on the following:
    1. 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?
    2. Training – how to ensure all staff receive orientation to CPM, and how to embed CPM into other internal trainings.
    3. Coaching – how to provide staff, supervisors, managers, and leaders with coaching to translate the practice and leadership behaviors to actual practice. How to use practice profiles and leadership profiles to assess staff's and leaders' current level of practice.
    4. Modeling – how to 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.
    5. Practice Profiles -- The profiles include Leadership and Social Worker Practice Profiles, and allow for staff, in partnership with their supervisor, to assess 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.
  • California Core Practice Model Workforce Development Tools
    1. Screening and Selection tools to support candidate self-selection into child welfare positions and assist in the agency selection process.
    2. Training and Coaching tools ensure staff, at all levels of the organization, are achieving the Values, Practice Elements, Casework Components and Practice Behaviors of CPM. These include:
      • 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 staffs 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.
      • 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 are a set of tools 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 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.
      • To access all the CPM Workforce Development Tools go to the following website:


  1. The Director will read the “CPM Leadership Behaviors for Promoting Workforce Development”
  2. Consider developing a skill-building process for your team focused on 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.
  3. What resources and services exist for the professional development of your staff at all levels.
    • For example, is there coaching available?
    • Are Performance Evaluations meaningful?


  1. See the “CPM Leadership Behaviors for Promoting Workforce Development”

Preparation for next segment


Segment #3: Recruitment, Screening, Selection, & Hiring


Learning Objective

Understand what a comprehensive recruitment and hiring process includes. Determine how leadership can address and impact race, equity, diversity, and inclusion in workforce recruitment and retention.


  • CWDA 2006 turnover study recommends:
    1. Collect data continuously to track vacancies, turnover, and exit reasons. This will help you identify trends and craft recruitment and retention strategies.
    2. Provide realistic job previews.
    3. Offer tuition reimbursement as an incentive.
    4. Offer increased incentives to Journey and Advanced Journey level Social Workers. They experience burnout at these levels.
    5. Offer leadership training and mentoring as an incentive.
    6. Expand recruitment efforts to non-traditional local sources.
    7. See full report here:
  • The best practices reflected above and in Segment 1 of this module reinforce the Director’s role in collaboration with your Human Resources colleagues to ensure that the recruitment, screening, selection, and hiring processes include all the needed elements.
    1. Job descriptions are specific, meaningful and relate to CPM behaviors and outcomes. They should be updated regularly to reflect current work environment and job duties and responsibilities.
    2. Recruitment: An ongoing, well-defined recruitment process includes the following recruitment strategies, in descending order of effectiveness (APHSA)
      • University-agency training partnerships and/or stipends for students.
      • Job announcements posted on websites.
      • Early and aggressive recruiting at social work schools.
      • Emphasis on continuing education/training and supervision opportunities within the agency.
      • Increased personal contact with potential candidates to encourage their application.
      • Involve all levels of management and direct service staff in recruitment. Tell staff what openings exist and ask them to refer candidates.
      • Recruit continuously to have a pool of pre-qualified candidates. Have predefined ads, pre-identified websites, and a list of contacts for recruitment.
    3. Screening & Self-screening processes are frequently omitted but are critical to success on the job and retention. These can help a candidate decide whether to apply for a job. Self-screening can result in a smaller but better-suited pool of candidates.
      • Offer a web-based screening process for prospective employees so they can get watch a Realistic Job Preview (that includes job stresses) and get information about the job (salary, benefits, schedule, typical workday).
      • Consider developing a “Is this work for you?” self-assessment. E.g., ask questions about their thoughts concerning making unannounced home visits with dangerous situations (dogs, guns, etc.), dealing with irate clients who curse at you, etc. Alternatively, ask these questions during the hiring interview.
      • Screening can also include a telephone interview, to determine if a candidate should advance to an interview, using a standard list of questions and candidate-specific questions too.
    4. Application process: Include a personal statement (motivation, career goals) in addition to the application form. Screen applications as soon as they are received.
    5. Interviews:
      • Ask behaviorally based questions to elicit 3 types of skills:
        • Content skills (job specific)
        • Functional or transferable skills (organizational, time management, planning, communication, etc.)
        • Adaptive or self-management skills (punctuality, dependability, self-direction, teaming)
      • Assess candidates’ personal commitment, i.e., does child welfare work reflect their personal beliefs?
      • Require candidates to complete several verbal or written child welfare vignettes. Grade on how they resolve situations, technical skills, and writing or verbal ability.
      • Expand the interview to include exercises such as prioritization of tasks, simulated client interviews, simulated group discussion (e.g., a case discussion or a problem-solving discussion).
      • Ask candidates to complete a skills inventory (could be based on CPM). Provide training to supervisors and managers who will conduct the interviews.
  • Activities

    1. Review Strategies for Staff Engagement and Retention. 1 page.
    2. Meet with your human resource colleagues. Find out your agency’s current recruitment and retention plan and process? How’s it working? What’s missing? What can you build on? Ask the same questions about promotional opportunities for staff.
    3. Individual Exercise: Review your county’s job descriptions. Are these included in your job descriptions: What does it take for a person to succeed as a Social Worker? Ability, skills, motivation, personality, behavioral characteristics, technical skills, social skills, etc.


    1. Screening & Selection Tools: Tools developed to support candidate self-selection into child welfare positions, and to assist in the agency selection process.
    2. Tool includes:
      • Practice Profiles
        1. Practice profiles attempt to define the linear and gradual progression of skill acquisition as practitioners and leaders integrate a particular practice into their work. The profiles identify emerging, acquiring, and accomplished practice in each area of CPM.
        2. Social Worker Practice Profile Word PDF
        3. Leadership Practice Profile Word PDF
      • Screening & Selection Tools
        1. Realistic Job Preview Letter - Supporting self-selection into the job Word PDF
        2. Realistic Job Preview Videos - and selection interview process.
    3. Strategies for Staff Engagement and Retention. 1 page.

    Preparation for next segment

    Review your CPM snapshot or other assessment from Module Two and meeting landscape from Module Four and Five with an eye towards workforce development. Can any of these initiatives and or partnerships connect to your workforce development efforts? If so, how? If not, how can you connect them?

    Segment #4: Partnerships that Support Workforce Development

    Reading and Activities: 1 to 2 hours

    Coaching: 1hour

    Learning Objective

    Organize and oversee collaboration with key workforce development organizations to support agency needs.

    Finding ways to consider race, equity, diversity, and inclusion beyond language capability to support the needs of families.


    • An effective leader will have effective working relationships with the following organizations:
      • Schools of Social Work - Find out what Schools of Social Work are in or near your county or state. California has 21 colleges and universities with approved IV-E Master’s Programs in Social Work. Of these 21, 6 universities also offer IV-E certified Bachelor of Social Work degrees.  Since all IV-E certified programs are recognized to produce graduates with realistic job expectations regarding child welfare, some agencies facing difficulty finding MSW candidates may want to consider BSW candidates.
      • Your Regional Training Academy - California has a network of 5 regional training academies for child welfare training to the state’s 58 counties. Go to this link for a map of counties and their regional training academy:
      • CalSWEC - The California Social Work Education Center mission is to facilitate and support statewide partnerships for the education and training of social workers to ensure culturally responsive, effective, and high-quality health and social service delivery to the people of California.
      • In support of its Mission, CalSWEC Goals are to:
        • Prepare a diverse group of social workers for careers in human services, with special emphasis in the fields of child welfare, integrated behavioral health, and aging.
        • Define and operationalize a continuum of social work education and training
        • Engage in evaluation, research, and dissemination of best practices in social work
      • UC Davis has a Center for Human Services which provide continuing education for child welfare and other social services professionals. The Center’s Resource Center for Family- Focused Practice provides multidisciplinary training for family-centered practice.


    1. Get to know the leaders of these organizations. Have an introductory meeting with them and find out what their working relationship with your agency has been like previously, and what kind of relationship they would like.
      1. At that meeting or a subsequent meeting, share with them that you have learned about your agency and its workforce development strengths and challenges. Ask for their feedback and about how they might be able to help.  Find out how you might be able to support them.
    2. Find out if your agency has IV-E internships.  With what schools? Do the schools have a particular expertise or focus?
    3. Think about who else can you partner with, both internally and externally, e.g., local media, to improve staff recruitment and retention?

    Think about active steps can you take to develop good relationships with yet another partner -- the media -- and have positive stories in the news?


    1. Completed CPM Snapshot from Module One
    2. Any completed assessments from Module Two
    3. Meeting landscape from Modules Four & Five
    4. Professional Development Plan

    Course summary and wrap up

    Following the completion of module 9 the coach will review the professional development plan (PDP) with the Director to make any final updates, additions or changes reinforcing the concept that the PDP is a living and working document that will continually be updated and modified as the Director continues to learn and grow within their position as a director.

    The coach will offer themselves as a resource for the Director and will briefly review the materials available to the Director through the course to include the assessment tools, the e-learning modules, the reading materials, and the core practice model website.

    The coach will ask the following reflective questions:

    • Now that you have completed the course what are your thoughts about the course?
    • Which modules did you find most helpful?
    • Are there modules that you think need additional content, materials, activities, or time?
    • What are your thoughts about the total time the course takes?
    • What are your thoughts about the amount of coaching time built into each module?
    • Which modules and activities do you believe best engaged your management/leadership team in your learning process?
    • Are there specific activities that you can highlight as having the most impact for you and your team?
    • How have things changed for you in this role over time?
    • Any additional thoughts or recommendations you have about this course?


    Segments #1 & #2:

    American Public Human Services Association, 2010. Positioning Public Child Welfare Guidance. Workforce Guidance

    Children’s Defense Fund and Children’s Rights, Inc., 2006. Components of an effective child welfare workforce to improve outcomes for children and families.

    California Child Welfare Core Practice Model Workforce Development Circle Toolkit

    Segment #3:

    The County Welfare Directors Association of California Turnover Study (2006)

    Creating a Supportive Community Context (5 minutes)

    Keeping Track of Our Most Valuable Resource: Using Workforce Data to Improve Child Welfare Programs (9 minutes)

    Realistic Job Preview Video-California

    Alaska Office of Children’s Services Realistic Job Profile

    This Realistic Job Preview describes the difficulties and satisfactions of the child welfare job.

    Strategies for Staff Engagement and Retention. 1 page.

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