In 2007, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services began coordinating
inter-divisionally and with community stakeholders to develop and implement a family-centered,
trauma-informed, strength-based child welfare system. Efforts have been directed at
identifying evidence based interventions and field practices, developing an informed
and educated workforce through curricula development and trainings, and utilizing
Learning Collaboratives and a model of statewide supervisory field support to enhance
staff and field development.
There are three distinct but overlapping programs under the CSU contract. They are:
- The Learning Collaborative Program (LCP)- Administered through the Division of Service
- The Office of Trauma Informed Practice (OTIP) - Administered through the Division
of Clinical Services;
- Supervisory Training to Enhance Practice- Administered through the Division of Service
These three program components represent the collaborative effort of the Department
(DCFS), Chicago State University (CSU), and Northwestern University (NU).
1. The Learning Collaborative Program (LCP)
The learning collaborative is a local, geographically-based structure and workforce
development process within the Department’s Division of Service Support that provides
training and support to DCFS and POS staff across job functions and organization levels.
The Learning Collaborative approach reflects the current thinking of national experts
about the most effective methods for promoting adoption and implementation of family-centered,
trauma-focused and strength-based practices, spreading best practices across multiple
settings, and bringing about lasting change and improvement in practice across diverse
2. The Office of Trauma-Informed Practice (OTIP) - Administered through the Division
of Clinical Services;
The Office of Trauma Informed Practice [OTIP] was developed to further the Department’s
efforts to become more trauma-informed and to support administrative coherence, alignment
and coordination of effort, and accountability. This office is charged with a variety
of tasks, foremost among them being the development and implementation of community
engagement activities that seek to strengthen family-centered, trauma informed, and
strengths-based [FTS] practices across service systems, and the strengthening of trauma
informed practices within DCFS and POS programs.
Working under the direction of the Division of Clinical Services, The Office of Trauma
Informed Practices’ mandate can be divided into three broad areas:
- Training/ Workforce Development: Provide trainings to DCFS/ POS staff modify and develop
curricula to support FTS practices for DCFS programs, and community organizations;
- Program Consultation with DCFS programs: Program Development/ Capacity Building: OTIP
works collaboratively with DCFS programs that seek to adopt the components of the
FTS model within their service delivery processes;
- System Integration/ External Engagements: Represent the Department with external organizations,
departments and programs as well as local and national institutions to facilitate
system integration, and support capacity building.
- Supervisory Training to Enhance Practice (STEP) - Administered through the Division
of Service Support
STEP is an agency-driven, performance-focused workforce development model, focused
on the strategic use of supervision to effect organizational change, instill preferred
practices, implement key Department programs and sustain improved service delivery.
Supported by research and practice wisdom alike, the role of casework supervision
in child welfare intervention is the foundation of an effective practice-driven service
system. The knowledge and skills of the supervisor gives shape to agency’s practices.
The supervisor’s commitment is key to sustaining successful practice change, which
has a direct impact on the lives of children and families serviced. For these reasons,
the individual casework supervisor, either providing Intact Family, Investigations
and/or Permanency Services, is the focus of the STEP program. STEP provides an array
of skill enhancing services to Illinois’ network of child welfare supervisors through
targeted application of workforce development tactics including transfer of learning
methods, coaching techniques, facilitated case presentation, group activities, and
self-directed learning experiences. Through these efforts, supervisors will achieve
skill enhancement and mastery of key practices to promote program implementation and
sustainability of services.