The Child Welfare Family-Centered, Trauma-Informed Strength-Based Practice Project

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:
  1. The Learning Collaborative Program (LCP)- Administered through the Division of Service Support;
  2. The Office of Trauma Informed Practice (OTIP) - Administered through the Division of Clinical Services;
  3. Supervisory Training to Enhance Practice- Administered through the Division of Service Support
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 organizations.
      2. The Office of Trauma-Informed Practice (OTIP) - Administered through the Division of Clinical Services;
    1. 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:
    1. Training/ Workforce Development: Provide trainings to DCFS/ POS staff modify and develop curricula to support FTS practices for DCFS programs, and community organizations;
    2. 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;
    3. 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.
    4. 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.