The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Leading Change in Child Welfare: Results From a National Evaluation

Sunday, January 19, 2014: 8:45 AM-10:30 AM
HBG Convention Center, Room 008B River Level (San Antonio, TX)
Cluster: Child Welfare
Symposium Organizer:
Nancy S. Dickinson, PhD, University of Maryland at Baltimore
Child welfare organizations are constantly changing, and leaders need skills to navigate the challenges and uncertainties of this “permanent whitewater” of change (Covey, 2004).  Supervisors and managers in child welfare are key to the success of organizational strategies which support needed systems changes (Zlotnik, McCarthy, & Briar-Lawson, 2006). The National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) was funded by the Children’s Bureau in 2008 to build the capacity of the nation’s child welfare workforce and improve outcomes for children, youth and families by providing leadership development for child welfare supervisors and middle managers.  Specifically, the goal of NCWWI’s leadership academies is to facilitate the ability of supervisors and middle managers to apply leadership skills for sustainable systems change.  The purpose of this symposium is to present results of a rigorous evaluation of the outcomes of the leadership academies.

In this symposium three presentations will highlight multiple methods of research used in the national evaluation of NCWWI’s competency-based Leadership Academy for Supervisors (LAS) and Leadership Academy for Middle Managers (LAMM).  The LAS is an online training program for experienced supervisors who are motivated to become leaders.  Delivered through six self-paced online modules with embedded learning activities, the courses are followed by facilitated peer networking. More than 790 supervisors participated in this national evaluation.  A total of 406 public, private, and tribal child welfare agency middle managers have attended 13 LAMM trainings, each in a 6-day residential format with follow-up coaching and peer networking.  All LAMM participants are part of the evaluation.  Both programs promote the development and application of change leadership skills through competency-based curricula and workforce support activities, helping participants apply the learning to change initiative projects.

 The first presentation in this symposium describes the development and testing of a leadership competency self-assessment tool that measures learning and transfer of learning as it evolves from knowledge-based to skill mastery through application.  The methods and results of a study to develop a valid and reliable competency assessment will be presented, along with conclusions that confirm the utility of the self-assessment tool for measuring change in leadership skills.  The second presentation features the test of whether leadership competencies and workforce supports predicted the successful implementation of organizational change initiatives.  Using formative evaluation data and multivariate analyses, results indicate that individual and work environment factors are critical for implementing change.  The final presentation will describe the development and testing of a model of how training promotes learning and the transfer of learning to practice, an approach replicating work in other fields but rarely applied in child welfare.

* noted as presenting author
Competency Development for Leaders in Child Welfare
Robin Leake, PhD, University of Denver; Shauna Rienks, PhD, University of Denver; Anna deGuzman, MS, University of Denver
Developing Competent Child Welfare Leaders Who Can Successfully Implement Organizational Change
Deborah Reed, MSW, Portland State University; Freda Bernotavicz, MS, University of Southern Maine; Robin Leake, PhD, University of Denver
Testing a Transfer of Learning Model for Child Welfare Middle Managers
Shauna Rienks, PhD, University of Denver; Katharine Cahn, PhD, Portland State University; Anna deGuzman, MS, University of Denver; Cathryn C. Potter, PhD, University of Denver
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