NCCD Is Helping Agencies Adapt to New Reality
Child protection social workers are essential first responders in many states. As they are forced to adapt their work to new and changing contexts, the NCCD Children’s Research Center (CRC) is offering support by developing and facilitating webinars about:
- Safety assessment and planning when physical distancing is recommended or required;
- Best practices for remote supervision; and
- Best practices for supporting and assessing virtual visits between parents and their children in foster care.
Client jurisdictions like the Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD) have used these webinars to provide local practitioners an opportunity to share what they are learning about this new and complicated work. Best practices and research-based knowledge from CRC is also part of the webinar content.
Amanda Hope, a family service worker (FSW) supervisor in Arkansas, said the webinars “have been very helpful in addressing needed topics that will enhance best practice during COVID while ensuring accountability. Our mission is safety and it takes everyone and every shared voice to achieve that. [The webinars] allow us the ability to connect with others to see how they’re persevering through this COVID challenge.”
FSW Sarah Rion added that the CRC webinar training on virtual visits with children was “interesting, interactive, and very informative. They gave good tips about how to engage kids during video home visits.”
Annamarie Luna, acting director of protective services at New Mexico CYFD, is grateful for their collaboration with CRC during the COVID-19 pandemic. “They provided great tip sheets for our staff to use during the pandemic in consideration of physical distancing,” she said. “Additionally, we used this time to provide webinars for staff to remind them about the use of our safety assessment, consideration of safety planning in this new world, and to provide reminders of the role of the child welfare agency. ... We believe our practice during this pandemic is stronger than before related to safety planning.”
SafeMeasures®, NCCD’s reporting service, is also helping agencies respond to changing needs. To help agencies support and train their staff in the wake of stay-at-home orders across the country, NCCD developed the SafeMeasures Online Basic Navigation Curriculum. Available in an external learning platform accessible to clients, the basic navigation course is a simple walkthrough of SafeMeasures.
Because all SafeMeasures sites and reports work similarly, the curriculum content is generic. It provides new users with basic skills and serves as a refresher for users who may have forgotten about certain features or need a better understanding of those features’ functions. The self-guided course contains eight training modules and can be accessed multiple times so that users can work at their own pace.
In addition, once federal standards for face-to-face contact were waived, NCCD quickly modified many existing reports in multiple jurisdictions to make data and workload management screens more applicable to virtual/phone contact.
The SafeMeasures team is also helping jurisdictions brainstorm and develop new reports using their existing data. The new reports will include actionable data to support jurisdictions’ response efforts. Examples of potential new reports include the following.
- Children in placement whose caregivers are over age 60. Because these caregivers face a higher risk of experiencing serious symptoms if they contract COVID-19, NCCD could create a report of children in placement with caregivers who have one or more risk factors (to the extent that other risk factors are documented in a caregiver record). These reports could be useful in developing a COVID-19 risk outreach plan, which would be an individual response or alternative care plan should anyone in the household show symptoms of or test positive for COVID-19.
- Youth in independent living placements. These youth may need more support in safely navigating public transportation, grocery stores, and other public spaces in times of an outbreak of a highly contagious disease.
If NCCD can do anything else to help your jurisdiction support its child protection workers and monitor the safety of children and families through this public health crisis, please reach out directly.
Phil Decter, Director of Child Welfare
Heather Meitner, Child Welfare Practice and Team Decision Making Manager
Shane Fetters, Director of Information Technology and Systems
The following resources complement the webinars for child protection workers.
- Safety Assessment and Planning During Physical Distancing (PDF)
- Successful Video Visits With Young Children (PDF)
- Child Welfare Supervision During Physical Distancing: Tools and Guidance (PDF)
- Family Team Meetings: Guidance for Facilitators During Physical Distancing (PDF)