New Child Welfare Directors' Development Program

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The New Child Welfare Directors’ Development Program is intended to support any recently promoted or appointed directors to any public child welfare agency in California. It can also be used by any director in need of a set of resources, tools and content that might help them navigate the current realities of running an organization premised on crisis and the ever-changing child welfare landscape.

Child Welfare Agencies must be equipped to engage and assess families, develop successful case plans with family & youth voice and transition children to permanent and healthy family-based settings. In support of this goal, this program intends to build skill and resilience in child welfare directors so they can stabilize and enhance agency functioning and build leadership capacity in child welfare agencies.

Because turnover in the ranks of child welfare directors is inevitable and the need for child welfare leaders is so great, this program is dedicated to those who are brave enough to take on the challenges, successes and rewards of one of California’s most valuable roles in public service.

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General Format

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Program Snapshot

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History & Background

The challenges of running a child welfare agency run the gamut, from fiscal, contract and human resource issues to creating forward-thinking and progressive programming that addresses community needs. This program was born out of a need, identified by current child welfare directors, to address the inadequate preparation for the demands of the child welfare director position. It is intended to acknowledge, reinforce and develop the capacity of the critical role child welfare directors have in leading agencies toward improved outcomes for children and families.

Many child welfare experts have identified leadership development as a crucial ingredient to improving organizational health, services, and outcomes for children and families. Further, having a uniform program can increase competency statewide and facilitate the sharing of knowledge attained and lessons learned from programs previously or in the process of implementation.

With the ongoing support of the Child and Family Policy Institute of California (CFPIC) toward the implementation of the Core Practice Model in California, it proved to be an apt time to move forward with the development of such a program. Members of the Core Practice Model Design Team began planning efforts with the intention of implementing a comprehensive training and coaching program for new child welfare directors.

In 2018, the Bay Area Regional Children’s Committee (BARCC) reviewed recent and upcoming turnover and lateral transfers of child welfare directors within the region. During this review, the idea of developing a leadership program was initiated. Over the course of three months, the directors developed an outline of content needed, and requested that the Bay Area Academy dedicate resources to continue the project to develop a self-paced program for new directors. On BARCC’s behalf the Bay Area Academy hired two former child welfare directors as subject matter experts and one instructional designer to support the development of this program.

During the development period, the Workforce Development Committee of the County Welfare Directors Association of California (CWDA) requested that the association endorse the program. In April 2019, the program development phase was completed and the program was formally supported by CWDA. During the remainder of 2019, the program will be tested with new directors in the Bay Area region and will be updated based on input from the testing phase.

Teaching Methodology and Format

Due to the lack of a large enough cohort to go through a program at one time, this program uses a self-paced, guided study approach coupled with supportive coaching at monthly intervals. The program content is grounded in the policy, fiscal and compliance realities of the job and also includes significant time on leadership and organizational development, implementation science and the foundational practice premise of the California Core Practice Model (CPM).