November 16th, 2022 Difficult Conversations in Child Welfare Training
2 min read
Recently during new worker training, a learner asked “why do we have to talk about Race?” It’s a good question. Of all the knowledge and skills needed to do this difficult work, is Race really that big of a deal? Consider the following 2020 Minnesota statistics:
|More likely than white children:||American Indian Children||Children Who Identify With Two or More Races||African American Children|
|To be involved in completed maltreatment assessments/investigations 1||4.6 times more likely||4.6 times more likely||2.6 times more likely|
|To be placed in out-of-home care 2||16.4 times more likely||6.8 times more likely||2.4 times more likely|
Minnesota has an alarming level of overrepresentation of American Indian and African American children in our Child Protection and out-of-home care systems. That’s a real problem. Disparities and disproportionality exist at every data point and decision making point in the child welfare system. From reporting, to screening in and out, placement, and even aging out of the system, we see disparity and disproportionality. People in various positions have been researching this for decades and it still exists. We have a choice: we could ignore the data and the conversation, or we can face the problem head-on and look for solutions.
This means that in Classroom One of Child Welfare Foundations Training (CWTA X100), there will be important conversations; some of which might be difficult for some learners. We all have different levels of comfort and understanding with these types of conversations, and this can cause some to feel vulnerable or offended. Knowing this in advance, we are asking learners to come into this discussion with an open mind and a willingness to engage.
Are we saying some workers are racists? No, not at all. A conversation about Race is really a conversation about bias, and we all have them. An article from the American Bar Association reports that, “Everyone has biases. It’s true. Having a bias doesn’t make you a bad person, however, and not every bias is negative or hurtful. It’s not recognizing biases that can lead to bad decisions at work, in life, and in relationships.” So we want to recognize and acknowledge our biases to better understand how they influence and shape our interactions with co-workers, children, and families, as well as the decisions we make about the children and families in our system.
To help prepare for these conversations, we have posted articles on cultural responsiveness for workers and for supervisors. These articles discuss competencies found in the Minnesota Child Welfare Practice Framework, and how these specific competencies can help your growth and development while improving outcomes for children and families. We hope you will join us in these difficult conversations. It may not be easy, but the potential for positive change is extraordinary, and the children of Minnesota deserve nothing less.
If you have questions or feedback, please contact us anytime.
1 Minnesota’s Out-of-home Care and Permanency Report 2020
2 Minnesota’s Child Maltreatment Report 2020
Want to learn more about Classroom One of Child Welfare Foundations Training? Following is a complete overview.
This 3-day training is the first of four classrooms in the Child Welfare Foundation Training (CWFT) series. Day 1 provides participants an introduction to the classroom portion of CWFT, cultural responsiveness, social identities, morals, values, beliefs, and worker self-care. Day 2 introduces implicit/explicit bias, decision points in a case and disparities and disproportionality in child welfare practice; engagement strategies with families, including engaging fathers and working with families with co-occurrence of domestic violence and maltreatment. Day 3 applies previous content with the topic of trauma informed practice, including ACEs, attachment, application scenarios throughout and case consults. Varied classroom formats are utilized, with an emphasis on activities to assist the transfer of learning and skill application into practice. Learning objectives include:
- Engage in a learning community to enhance professional skill building and ethics of social work practice.
- Explain how their personal identity, values and culture influence practice.
- Identify where their own culture, values and beliefs differ from those of the families and communities they work with.
- Describe three ways to address disparities and disproportionality at an individual, agency and societal level.
- Discuss 3 social policies that have impacted engagement of fathers and/ or secondary caregivers in the child welfare system.
- Describe power and control in cases with co-occurring domestic violence and child maltreatment and its impact on practice.
- Identify 3 self-care strategies and/or support networks to sustain professional practice.
- Describe trauma informed practice in three case examples, informed by relevant developmental, cultural, historical and individualized considerations.