For over 15 years, the Muskie School assisted the Colorado Department of Human Services in the development, delivery and fiscal management of training programs for public child welfare county directors, managers, supervisors and workers, as well as foster parents. More recently, the work focused on child and family wellbeing and developing cross-systems curricula for multiple audiences serving the child welfare population.
Enhancing Collaboration between Early Care and Education (ECE) and the Child Welfare System. By adapting child welfare training for ECE providers and Early Intervention/Preschool Special Education staff, we enhanced their understanding of the needs of children involved in the child welfare system, encouraged partnerships, helped providers support children in the ECE setting and shared information.
Kinship Care and the Judicial Sector—With the assistance of a Judge in Colorado, we developed a guide and bench cards for judges and judicial staff assisting kinship caregivers who come in contact with the court system—both those involved in the child welfare system and those who take in kin through more informal arrangements within the family—to promote understanding on the benefits and challenges of kinship care placement.
Training Caseworkers as “Brokers” to Connect Children and Youth with Evidence-based Practices (EBPs) in Mental Health—Caseworkers play an increasingly important role as “brokers” to help children and families access interventions and treatments that positively affect outcomes. Muskie facilitated efforts to bring to Colorado an innovative model for supporting caseworkers in this role. Project Focus combines face-to-face training of caseworkers with follow-up case-specific phone consultation.
Advocating for the Educational Needs of Children in the Child Welfare System—Muskie staff developed this curriculum for caseworkers and adapted it for foster parents to address the educational needs of children and youth involved in the child welfare system who tend to have poor educational outcomes because of early trauma and multiple changes in placements and schools. The curricula emphasized the need for educational stability, the role of caseworkers as advocates in the special education system and simple steps caseworkers and foster parents can take to promote day-to-day educational success.
Meeting the Developmental Needs of Young Children in the Child Welfare System examined the degree to which the early intervention/preschool special education, early care and education, and child welfare systems collaborated to address the developmental needs of young children ages 0-5 in the child welfare system. To educate stakeholders about the needs of this vulnerable population, we developed a DVD and training curriculum on how to address the developmental needs of this population of children.
Assessing and Addressing the Needs of Kinship Caregivers—Placement of children and youth in kinship settings has been one of the fastest growing trends in child welfare and caseworker understanding and support of these families has become increasingly important. Muskie staff completed:
- a statewide needs assessment outlining challenges facing caregivers and caseworkers and describing best practices (http://cokinship.org/).
- two statewide forums to exchange information and explore policies to better support kinship care.
- a training curriculum for child welfare caseworkers entitled "Understanding and Addressing the Needs of Kinship Families."
Training Needs Assessment—In 2009, Muskie staff surveyed caseworkers, case aides and caseworker supervisors in all 64 counties in CO to rate their level of knowledge on a variety of child welfare topics and to rank those topics based on their own perceptions of training needs. The results provided data to guide Colorado in the creation of its recently established Child Welfare Training Academy.