This May we are exploring the worker competencies associated with Policy, which involves understanding policies that affect delivery of child welfare services and the missions, priorities and resource allocations that guide the development and implementation of policy in public, tribal and private non-profit social services. As we explore several foundational and advanced competencies, consider all the ways that policies guide and shape child welfare work.

One of the foundational policy competencies asks that workers demonstrate a basic knowledge of the philosophy, purpose, requirements, and application of the major federal, state, and local social policies affecting children, youth, and families in the child welfare system, including ICWA, MEPA, Title IV-B, Title IV-E, CAPTA, CFSR, MIFPA, BIA regulations, ASFA, PSSF, TANF, WIA, Chafee, and Fostering Connections. It is no small undertaking to understand everything involved in child welfare. Workers should strive to continually educate themselves on the ins-and-outs of child welfare, but at the same time to give themselves grace to not know everything. Good policy can help workers find success while allowing for growth and development.

A second foundational competency states that workers should demonstrate an understanding of the legal framework for child welfare practice, including the Juvenile Court process and other court proceedings related to child welfare practice, including tribal courts. Developing an understanding of the legal processes and judicial system is essential for child welfare professionals, as well as an understanding of laws and policies that involve Minnesota Indian Tribes.

With experience child welfare professionals will develop a better understanding of the advanced competencies of policy. An example of an advanced competency is the ability to demonstrate knowledge of the philosophy, purpose, requirements, and application of the major federal, state, and local disability policies affecting children, youth and families in the child welfare system, including ADA, Title II and IDEA. Policy can often overwhelm and complicate child welfare work, but that does not mean it should be avoided or minimized. Minnesota has a number of policy experts who can be consulted and utilized through partnerships and training.

Another advanced competency is to understand how political activities and regulatory, legislative, and judicial processes at local, state, and national levels influence agency policies, procedures and programs. The Minnesota Child Welfare Training Academy is the result of legislative work from the 2014 Governor's Task Force on the Protection of Children. Working with legislators and understanding the politics behind these kinds of policy are necessary to make the changes that are needed in the child welfare system. This interview with Rep. Ron Kresha (Republican, District: 09B) is an example of the political engagement in this work.

Check out pages 13-14 of the Minnesota Child Welfare Practice Framework to learn about all the worker competencies associated with Policy. Let us now if you have questions about this or any other competency, or how to integrate these competencies into your work.