“Professionalism is not about what work you do, it is about how well you do the work.” ~ Amit Kalantri

This July, we are exploring the worker competencies associated with Professionalism, which involve demonstrating professional growth and competence in child welfare while providing respectful and culturally relevant services to children within the context of a values-based ethical framework. Jessica Elliott, a certified executive coach, writes that, “Success may be defined in different ways by different people, but being an informed and dedicated employee, a strong leader, and an honest person can all make a big difference in making you a successful professional in any career.” The Minnesota Child Welfare Training Academy intentionally uses the term child welfare professional when we talk about the Minnesota child welfare workforce because we believe these workers are dedicated to the families that count on them and in creating positive outcomes. Working in this field demands an ongoing ability to learn and grow. So what does that look like when put into practice?

Elliott continues that, “No matter how you define your goals or what field you work in, strengthening your professional skills, building professional relationships, and being a self-motivated professional can help you achieve success and satisfaction in your career.” Looking at the foundational competencies associated with professionalism, we see that child welfare professionals are asked to demonstrate an ability to establish appropriate boundaries with children, families, and colleagues, and to take cultural norms into consideration. Look for training opportunities that address the specific topics that you want to develop. In the next year, the Training Academy will introduce simulation labs that will provide workers with a realistic, immersive experience through a variety of scenarios.

Another foundational competency states that workers understand and distinguish among personal and professional values and ethics, and consider possible courses of action to pursue when they conflict. Workers are often faced with family situations that do not match their personal understanding, and need to draw upon their own empathy and critical thinking skills to make fair and appropriate decisions. There may also be competing expectations from colleagues and supervisors, and so it is key to the process that the needs of the family are kept at the forefront in order to make decisions.

At an advanced level, these competencies ask workers to identify areas of professional growth, create a professional development plan to increase knowledge and skill in areas of interest and needed growth, and advocate for the resources to reach professional development goals. Not only can professional development improve their ability to succeed in their work, which will benefit the families and children served, but it will likely increase their job satisfaction and improve the options for career advancement.

Check out page 15 of the Minnesota Child Welfare Practice Framework to learn about the 11 foundational and 2 advanced worker competencies associated with professionalism. Let us know if you have questions about this or any other competency, or how to integrate these competencies into your work. Go here to read the full article on How to Become a Successful Professional by Jessica Elliott. A discussion of the competencies related to professionalism for supervisors can be found here.