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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The LGBTQAI+ training, Include, Empower, Affirm: Policy, Best Practices, and Guidance for Serving LGBTQAI+ Children and Youth Involved in the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice System, strategically addresses the knowledge, attitudes, and skills in preparing participants to provide respectful and affirming services for LGBTQ youth and their families. The training focuses on enacting the provisions of ACS’ main LGBTQ policy 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.
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.
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.