Vol. 3, No. 4 August 2002
Helps New Workers (and Supervisors) Get their Bearings
Its as true for social workers as it is for travelers, sailors, and pilots: to get where you want to go, you have to know where youre starting from. If they arent sure, travelers, sailors, and pilots use global positioning systems and other devices to find out.
Beginning child welfare social workers, because they seek to progress not through time and space but to increasing levels of mastery in their profession, need another tool to tell them where they are starting from. In North Carolina, that tool is the child welfare Preservice course.
Child Welfare in North Carolina
Also known as Child Welfare in North Carolina, the Preservice is a 12-day curriculum designed to introduce new child welfare social workers to the basic knowledge and skills they will need to serve families. Preservice has been continuously enhanced since it debuted in 1999. Following is a brief summary of improvements that have been made to this foundation course.
In spring 2002 information and skill practice on the following topics were added or expanded, in part due to feedback from trainees and their supervisors: interviewing; using the new structured decision making tools; case management/planning; writing case plans with families; and recognizing and understanding child sexual abuse.
In response to input from supervisors and workers, the Preservice has also been reorganized and some components consolidated. An example of this is the content on cultural competency, which is now presented in a single module rather than throughout the course.
Additionally, the Division and its partners have developed the following features and components to strengthen and complement the Preservice:
Knowledge Test (to be implemented winter 2003). The Division has devised and is piloting an end-of-course test for the Preservice. Administered on the last day, the 1.5 hour exam will help the Division gauge the effectiveness of this course. In the future test results may also evaluate how much participants learned from their training experience.
Refined Competencies. A training committee has revised the competencies addressed in the Preservice to ensure the course teaches the skills and knowledge new workers need.
Participant Feedback Form (PFF). Toward the end of the Preservice, trainers fill out a one-page PFF for each participant. They rate attentiveness in class; timeliness; level and style of participation; reactions to criticism, objections, and challenges; and the extent to which the participant supported and encouraged the learning of others. After completing the PFF, trainers give trainees a chance to review their comments and to assess themselves using the same benchmarks the trainers used. At the conclusion of the training the trainer gives each worker a copy of this form and sends a copy on to the workers supervisor.
Transfer of Learning Week (to be implemented September 2002). Training is worthwhile to the extent that it connects to and positively influences the way workers do their jobs. To help new workers transfer what they learn in Preservice to their work with families, they will be asked to engage in a series of tasks between their second and third weeks in the classroom, which has been dubbed transfer of learning (TOL) week. During this time at their agencies they will observe interviews, review agency records, and complete written assignments. In the final week of Preservice participants will turn this TOL homework in to trainers, who will give them written feedback. Participants will be asked to draw on what they learned in TOL during the last week of Preservice.
Participant Satisfaction Forms. This evaluation collects information from participants so those in charge of managing and refining the training system get a sense of how satisfied individuals are with each training experience.
Behind these Changes
The Division and its partners have made these enhancements to this course to ensure Preservice gives new child welfare workers an introduction to the field, shows them (and their supervisors) where the workers are strong and where they need to improve, and inspires them to actively pursue their own professional development.
Connie Polk of the Divisions Childrens Services Section puts it another way: We made these changes to Preservice because were serious about teaching new workers this information. In this and the other courses we want to do everything we can to support workers and supervisors in their effort to serve families.
If you have suggestions or questions related to the Preservice or other aspects of the child welfare training system, contact Ms. Polk or Ms. Rebecca Brigham (919/733-7672; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com).
Child Welfare in North
Carolina is part of the 100 training series offered by the Training
Partnership. It is required of all new DSS child welfare social workers
and supervisors who will practice in all areas of child welfare, except
family preservation. Family preservation services workers have different
training requirements. For more information, consult your agencys
copy of the N.C. Division of Social Services Training Schedule, or go
Completion of Child Welfare in North Carolina is required prior to direct client contact.
To register, fax a registration form to the person at the regional training center hosting the training you wish to attend. Registration forms are available at <http://ssw.unc.edu/fcrp/training_schedule/45.pdf>.
Asheville: Lou Decker (F: 828/251-6261; T: 828/251-6316)
Charlotte: Bonnie English (F: 704/330-2734; T: 704/330-2730)
Greensboro: Elaine Highsmith (F: 336/334-3936; T: 336/334-3930)
Kinston: Betty Williford (F: 252/520-2417; T: 252/520-2413)
© 2002 Jordan Institute for Families