Friday, 14 January 2005 - 12:00 PM
This presentation is part of: Poster Session I
An Examination of Best Practices in Cross-Training for Child Protection WorkersBarbara Walters, MSW, Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, Betty J. Blythe, PhD, Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, and Andre' Ivanoff, PhD, Columbia University School of Social Work.
Purpose: Child welfare systems recognize that child abuse and neglect do not occur in a vacuum. Families who become involved with child protection systems (CPS) often bring with them evidence of domestic violence, mental illness, and/or substance abuse issues. Research findings echo this same message. While recognizing this reality, many child protection agencies are slow to react to these additional issues. Other agencies, however, may be actively engaged in addressing the co-occurrence between child abuse and other serious social problems. Commissioned by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, this study examined best practices in training CPS workers in the areas of domestic violence, mental illness, and substance abuse. The role that community-based partnerships played in enhancing cross-training efforts also was explored.
Methods: Exemplary child protection sites were identified for inclusion in the study through interviews with selected national experts in child welfare. Commitment to continually improving training protocols, basing training components on research findings, and demonstrating a thorough understanding of the dynamics of complex social problems were frequently cited as characteristics embodied in the exemplary sites. Telephone surveys were completed with key representatives from the exemplary sites.
Results: Findings describe the impetus for, and the extent and nature of cross-training activity at the sites. The most training activity occurred in domestic violence and the least in mental health. Within each of the four areas of concern, there were more similarities than differences in specific training components across the sites. While time-consuming to develop and maintain, community partnerships were seen as critical to cross-training efforts. Many challenges to cross-training were cited, including funding and philosophical differences.
Implications: The findings of this study have several implications for widespread implementation of cross-training initiatives for CPS workers. The importance of establishing community partnerships between CPS and other relevant community-based social service agencies to meet the multiple needs of families in the child protection system is underscored by this research. Such policy-related issues as funding, mandating, and evaluating cross-training efforts were explored, and possible solutions were proposed.
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