Agents Of Change v2


The Office of Training and Workforce Development prides itself on being an innovative leader in the sector of training and professional development for staff working in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. We are engaged in numerous projects and initiatives focused on enhancing best practice, transforming culture, and promoting equity.

nyc acs wordcloud initiatives: train, motivate, inspire, improve

Challenging Ourselves

We strongly believe that in order to make lasting and effective change, we need to start with ourselves. To that end, we are dedicated to embedding participatory leadership as part of our culture and have made intentional efforts to ensure everyone on our team has a voice and can offer their opinion when it comes to decision-making, whenever possible.

We are also dedicated to promoting equity within all our teams. Office of Training and Workforce Development staff participate in biweekly Reflective Process sessions facilitated by an external consultant to engage in conversations around race, oppression, power, and privilege.

executive team member leading a group discussion

Supporting Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Staff

We offer a variety of Onboarding programs to support new staff in acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to do their jobs effectively and provide the best services to the children, youth, and families they work with. Providing this foundation to new workers at the beginning of their employment ensures staff are engaging in best practices from the start to support positive outcomes for children, youth, and families. For more information, see our Onboarding programs.

group listening to executive discussion with chart

Motivational Interviewing

We use strengths-based practice and motivational interviewing as the foundational framework for direct service staff and coaching as the foundational framework for supervisors and managers. We also include cultural humility as a cross-cutting theme in all trainings to support learners in understanding the impact of race, oppression, power, privilege on the communities we serve.

group of colleagues discussing project in office

Strengths Based Practice

Strengths-based practice encourages staff to engage with children, youth, and families by identifying and building on their assets and abilities. Our Motivational Interviewing programs provide staff with knowledge and skills to create a positive partnership with children, youth, and families to ensure they are receiving attention based on their specific needs and the strengths they already possess.

executive team member leading a group discussion


Coaching is a strengths-based process that supports individuals to maximize their potential. Our Coaching programs support supervisors and managers in integrating coaching as part of their supervision. Incorporating coaching into an organization creates a culture that is collaborative, promotes equity, and supports individuals to have a voice and discover solutions for themselves. For more information, visit our Coaching page.

Group of employees listening to focused manager.

Interactive Simulations

All our courses are designed to be interactive and activity-focused so learners have opportunities to practice the skills they are learning. We hire actors to engage in simulations with learners so they can participate in real-world situations in a supportive learning environment. We are thrilled to be able to conduct these simulations in our training sites that feature mock apartments, mock court rooms, and mock interview rooms. For more information, visit our Locations page.

group of people greeted the speaker with their applause

Shifting Culture – Supporting Specific Initiatives

Collaborative Assessment, Response, Engagement & Support (CARES/FAR NYC) is an alternative, non-investigatory child protection response to reports made to the Statewide Central Register (SCR) of Child Abuse and Maltreatment. In this approach, Child Protective Specialists partner with families to assess child safety and family needs, encourage families to develop their own solutions to their challenges, and identify supportive resources to help care for and protect their children. As a result, families receive services and supports tailored to their unique needs and knowledge on how to access them within their community.

women holding hands during group training session

LGBTQ Trainings

The LGBTQ trainings, Respect, Include, Empower and the TGNB training Safe and Respected are strategically planned to address knowledge, attitudes, and skills in preparing participants to provide respectful and affirming services for LGBTQ youth and their families. Both trainings respectively focus on enacting the provisions of ACS’ main LGBTQ policy, Promoting a Safe and Respectful Environment for LGBTQ Youth and their Families Involved in the Child Welfare, Detention and Juvenile to provide all young people and families served by ACS and our contracted provider agencies with a safe, healthy, inclusive, affirming, and discrimination-free environment.

manager speaking at diverse meeting sharing ideas at briefing

Safety Culture

Safety Culture uses safety science to promote a non-punitive approach in understanding complex systems and critical incidents. We ask what we can improve, rather than who we can blame. Safety science is used in healthcare, commercial aviation and nuclear power. It is now being adapted to child welfare, considered to be another high-risk, high-consequence industry. A safety culture establishes an atmosphere where everyone feels safe to discuss challenges and vulnerabilities within the system without the fear of retaliation.

employee giving presentation answering questions

Understanding & Undoing Implicit Bias

As mentioned above, we are dedicated to advancing racial equity within our own team and throughout our system. We offer an eLearn and instructor-led training on Understanding and Undoing Implicit Bias to all staff to support them in advancing their understanding of racism and implicit bias. We also support the provision of Healing Circles to ensure staff have a space to collectively share their experiences. We are proud to partner with the ACS Office of Equity Strategies and the ACS Racial Equity and Cultural Competence Committee (RECCC) to address issues of equity within our child welfare and juvenile justice communities in an ongoing way.

collaborative group meeting on the computer