Partnering With Families and Youth to Shift System Culture

OPERATOR: Good day,
everyone, and welcome to the Becoming a
Family-Focused System: Building a Culture
to Partner with Families conference call. Today’s conference is being
recorded, and at this time I would like to turn the
conference over to Chris King. Please go ahead. CHRIS: Thank you. I will now turn it over to our facilitator today, Jennifer Marcelli. Thank you. JENNIFER MARCELLI:
Thank you, Chris. Hi, everybody. Good morning or good afternoon. My name is Jennifer Marcelli. I am the Program Area
Manager for Foster Care with the Capacity
Building Center for States. I just want to let you all know who you’re going to
be hearing from today. You have Michelle Amann from Kentucky Department for
Community-Based Services, and she has over 14
years of experience working in child welfare. She’s the Assistant Director of the Kentucky
Sobriety Treatment and Recovery
Team and has assisted in implementation of the model and presents
nationally and regionally on best practices for child welfare involved families impacted by
parental substance use. We also have Jennifer Warren from the Kentucky Department
for Community-Based Services, and she has over 19
years of experience working in child welfare. She is currently an
Executive Advisor in the Department
for Community-Based Services Commissioner’s Office and is the
department’s Child Welfare Transformation Lead. And we’re also very lucky today to also have Brandon Schlosser, who is our Young Adult
Consultant working with the Capacity Building
Center for States. Next, I just want
to let you all know what you’re going
to be hearing today. In a moment, I’m
going to go over the objectives for our event. And then you’re going to hear about the
transformation project. You’re going to
hear about the shift of culture change
for family engagement. Then our presenters
are going to talk about the START program, and we’re going to present information on
some resources from the Capacity
Building Center for States, called the Becoming a
Family-Focused System Series. And then we’ll also
have time at the end for a question
and answer session. So, please throughout
today’s presentation, type into the chat any questions that you have for presenters, and we will be able to do that at the end of the event. And then finally, just to go over our
objectives for today for you all to
be able to identify strategies for building an organizational
culture to engage and collaborate with
families effectively and consistently. To also be able to identify critical strategies for building and sustaining an
organizational culture and climate that
supports family engagement at all levels of child welfare. And then again, to
increase your awareness of some of the
resources that the center can provide in this area. With that, I am
going to turn it over to Jennifer
Warren to get us going. JENNIFER WARREN: Thank you. Good afternoon, everyone. This is Jennifer Warren, and I’m going talk to you about our overall child
welfare transformation here in Kentucky, which we consider
a call to action. We understand
that on the other side of every decision that we make, every policy that is implemented and every law that is passed, there’s a child or
family that will either feel the benefit or the
consequence of that decision. And on the next
slide you will see — this is a graphic
and it’s fairly busy. And this is
really just a glance. I’m not going to go over every single
piece of this graph. But what I do
want to point out is it’s the picture
of what we are doing here in Kentucky. Child welfare transformation is really the
overarching framework that’s supporting
the department’s goals for systemwide improvement. And this is a kind
of highly effective, efficient child welfare agency. As you can see, it encompasses a
lot of initiatives. Those are levers
for that we want a systemwide transformation. It includes some
fiscal modernizations, state legislative activities, and some regulatory initiatives, federal compliance, and implementation
of best practices. Just a little bit of
history around this: in April of 2018,
we had all states storing
caseloads averages of 30. In some areas we had workers that had 80 cases
or more to their name. Staffing shortages and
an embattled of frontline, like everyone else. And very close to
about 10,000 children in out-of-home care. The system was very overwhelmed. The DCBS
implemented comprehensive project management structures so that we could begin to lift some of our
transformation efforts. And we had nine work groups. You can see that. Those are the dark blue. I won’t go into all of those, but those work groups functioned really like thinktanks and where we
developed strategies and we had community
partners at the table. And so, through
that we had about 52 transformational strategies that we have
lifted over the last year to 16 months. And, as part of that, we identified
three priority goals that we wanted to focus on that we really wanted to lift. You can see those. They’re not in rank order, but they safely reduce
the number of children entering out-of-home care, improve timeliness to
appropriate permanency. That’s a key word for us. We want that
permanency to be appropriate. And, of course, to
reduce our staff caseloads. And these aren’t standalone, but they all
influence each other. And so, we’re not finished. We’re about 16
months into this work, and we have entered Phase 2. And we’re going to be
listing some different work groups around
judicial engagement and looking at
primary and secondary prevention work and emphasis on
recovery and resilience of biological parents. And, ultimately,
we’re really transforming into becoming a
more data-informed and outcome-driven agency. So, let’s talk about — in the next slide you’ll see we’re going to talk
about some key features of the transformation effort, and this is our
foundation of shifting our culture. And so, if you would go to stakeholder engagement slide. So, from the beginning, it’s very important
that I talk about this. From the beginning, our stakeholders
have been involved. They’ve been at the table. We brought them in
early, early on and we had — you can see here. This is a
picture of Josh Degnan. He is a former foster youth with the Voices
of the Commonwealth. And that’s an advisory group of former foster
youth here in Kentucky. And those youth had
membership on at least three or four of
our work groups. But they also met one-on-one
with our commissioner. One thing that we really want to emphasize here is
that the youth at the table, they weren’t a token voice. They were actually heard. We engaged them and
asked them to advocate, and we worked with them, and they were a participant. This is a picture of Josh, and he’s sitting at
the table advocating for the passage of the Foster Youth Bill of Rights, which was House
Bill 158 that was just recently passed. The other important piece that we brought youth on board to have a conversation about is listing our new
independent living program called Kentucky Rise. They also review the
curriculum called Lift. And they actually gave feedback, told us what was,
what was not working. So, they’ve been
integral into this part of that conversation. And we also had parent mentors come alongside with us in a couple of our work groups. And we have foster parents, relative caregivers —
they’ve had membership. It’s been really critical to have those stakeholders. And then we have
sister agencies as well. And moving forward in Phase 2, we’ll be adding
additional mentors to be part of some of
the other work groups. And on the next slide. Here was a critical
piece for us as well. It’s a commitment
from our leadership from the very beginning, literally from the
Governor to the First Lady, Cabinet, and
executive leadership. They have supported
our transformation efforts from the very beginning. Our Cabinet
Secretary, Adam Meier, his team and him personally, they were at the table. They would
attend our work groups. They would offer insight. They were at the
table to contribute and would encourage us
to think outside the box. Kentucky had an opportunity to radically
transform its system and our Cabinet
Secretary was at the table. He was very supportive of that. And, of course, our
Commissioner, Eric Clark. You can see pictures of
him here in this slide. He participates. He’s very involved. He’s probably been
to 99% of the meetings. If he can get to them, he’s at the table
and urging us to think outside the box. He leads by example. He supports this work. He’s actually
engaged with field staff. He’s out in the regions talking to all
staff at every level. He’s done some ride-alongs. He’s very committed
to hearing the voices in our agency and
our stakeholders. I mentioned just a second ago that he went on ride-alongs with a couple of our workers, and he was able to
really walk into a home and see what our
staff encounter every day. And he was deeply
impacted by those experiences, and he was out there advocating for change for us. But, again, he’s
very supportive. The commitment of
leadership and urging us to — and giving us
permission to make changes and strategize
everything is key. So, our
Commissioner is very committed, and as part of
this presentation, we wanted to really talk about our movement since
we’re talking about culture. And we really
wanted to talk about the culture of
safety for our staff and how that we
are moving into that. And you’ll see
on the next slide, that culture of safety, this involves shifting
from a reactive culture of fear, blame, and intimidation to a responsive culture. And we all, I
think, can probably agree that the
majority of child welfare sits in that reactive culture. And workers often are driven — their decision-making
is driven by fear. They don’t want to be blamed. They don’t want to
be held accountable. So, this is a key
transformational strategy for us. And we have
brought in the initial — all of our
leadership from the top down, our Secretary’s office
has been trained in this. It’s starting to branch out into some sister agencies. But this is the one
strategy that we feel like, in addition to
some of the other work that we’re doing, that will have one of the most significant impacts on
our priority outcomes. Because at the end of the day, if we stabilize our workforce, and they feel safe in
their decision-making, then they are free to do that. They know they’re
not going to be blamed. And so, we’re early on
in that implementation. And what Cultural Safety does, it blends the safety science that’s used in
airlines, healthcare, other high-risk industries — you may be familiar with it. And instead of blaming a person for an event that happens, we will have negative outcomes in child welfare. There will just always be that. So, if an occurrence happens, they don’t blame the
worker, the individual, because we understand
no one tends to work — no one gets up in
the morning and says, “Today I’m going to go to work, and I’m going to make a decision that’s going to
cause a negative outcome.” So, we’re moving
in this direction, and we’ve had the
majority of our leadership, our judges and our
administrative office of court, they are engaged in this. We’ve introduced them to the collaborative safety agency that we are working with. At the end of the day, what the culture of safety does is it holds the
system accountable. It’s a trauma-informed lens, and we really feel — we’ve seen in other
states that their caseloads have reduced
their retaining staff, and their
caseloads are reducing. So, we’re really
excited about this moving forward, and we’re at the place
like every other state where we have to begin to have a different conversation. Workers are not the ones who are causing
trauma to children and physical death. They don’t tend to
work with those intentions. So, we are moving away from a reactive
culture of fear and blame. And on the next slide. We are redefining
child welfare for Kentucky. For a long time, we were the lead
agency of court, but we’re not the
child welfare system. And so, we’re
redefining that child welfare belongs to all of us. And this is a picture — again, it’s somewhat busy — that when we’re talking to our community partners, we’re engaged with staff, this is the
conversation that we are starting to have. We want to lead the way in becoming a child welfare system that’s moving
into the 21st century, away from the
practices of the 60’s and the 70’s where
the first response is a removal. But that we’re really looking at engaging at the community level and having that
conversation that we want children to be in
community-based settings with family, whether
it’s biological kin, an adoptive family. Clearly, reunification would be the first option there. So, this is our conversation, and it’s essential we’re
in front of legislators. It’s essential too
for the government, all three
branches, to believe this, to believe that
each child is worthy and deserves a safe
and nurturing family. In the coming months and years, if we’re moving and embedding our transformation
work into everyday process, our message is
that if we collectively do this correctly, there will
ultimately be a greater return on investment, a long-term cost, an avoidance by
virtue of the fact that families and
children are together, and they’re thriving. As we’re moving into phase two of our transformation
work, just to summarize, it really does involve becoming a data-informed
system that will inform the strategies
as we move forward, embedding that into our CQI and quality assurance processes. We want to sustain the
gains that we have made, and we want to be
responsive to the agencies. The strategies that
we have in place today just like yesterday. The strategies
that we have in place, they’re not working today. They’re really
providing a structure for ongoing change, is
how we are moving forward. So, we are restructuring our CQI to be more robust
and to help facilitate that conversation at
all levels of the agency. So, Michelle, that
concludes my presentation. I’m going to turn this
over to Michelle Amann. MICHELLE: Great,
thank you so much. Hello, everyone. So, again, my name
is Michelle Amann. And I’m the
Assistant Director for START. And, again, START
stands for Sobriety, Treatment, and Recovery Team. Really an integral
part of our program is the use of peer support. So, I wanted to
kind of just start with a polling
question if we could. Now, tell us your experience with having a
peer support program in your system, whether that’s no
experience at all or if there’s a new
program that’s begun or you might have a
lot of experience with it. I just kind of
want to get an idea of who our audience is here and what that could look like. I’ve also got a
short answer question that I’d like to go into. So, with your experience, what challenges or barriers have you encountered
in trying to implement peer support programs
in your jurisdiction? The use of peer
supports has become pretty widely spread, especially in our
regional health providers. So, I’m
interested to see if there’s any challenges that
you all have faced. And we’re going
to talk through this as we kind of go
through this presentation here. Funding, absolutely. Struggle in
ensuring peer supports keep their sobriety and maintaining their recovery. It’s very difficult for — we’re asking our
peer supports to not only live in the recovery, but also work in the recovery and we have to acknowledge that. That can be quite difficult so we really need to
talk through all of those. Recruitment has
definitely been an issue in these rural areas. We’re going to talk
about that actually. This is great information. How to pay the peer supports. So, again, that
comes with the funding. Wonderful. And so, I’m really seeing — I’m not that surprised. A lot of people are not having a lot of personal experience with the peer supports. So, this will be some
really good conversation, I think, to have. To start at one of
these transformation efforts that Kentucky actually
began earlier on in 2007. So, if we can kind of
go back to our slides. Thank you. And so, as I mentioned, the use of peer
supports has become quite widespread in our
behavioral health providers, but what makes START
a little bit different is the use of them in our child welfare system. And so, just to give a
little history on START, it actually began in
the Cleveland, Ohio area in the 1990’s at what
was really the height of the crack cocaine epidemic. So, they were
seeing a lot of kids coming into out of home care and they wanted to
look at some other options. And so, as you just
heard from Jennifer, we have a ton of
kids coming into out of home care now
as well in Kentucky. And so, we brought
this planning over into Kentucky in 2006 and then began to
do cases in 2007. We implemented in
eight different counties. And just to kind
of give you an idea, we’re not
widespread, but we are in Campbell, Canton,
and Boone Counties, which is right across
the river from Cincinnati. We’re in some more urban areas such as Jefferson County, which is
Louisville, and in Fayette, which is Lexington. We’re also in the
eastern part of the state in Boyd County,
which Ashland, Kentucky. And we’re in the
western part of the state in Davis County,
which is Owensboro. Now, we did implement
a site in Martin County and that was in the
northeastern part of Kentucky and that is more
an Appalachian area. And we weren’t able to maintain long-term
a full site there, but we continue to
have some START strategies being utilized. It’s also been
implemented in parts of Indiana and North Carolina and most recently in Maryland. And then it’s also been piloted in the Bronx, New
York and parts of Georgia. So, what exactly is START? It’s a specialized,
ongoing, child welfare program. We really combine best practices within the child welfare system, the courts, our
behavioral health providers, all trying to work together with these mutual
clients to obtain and maintain their sobriety and recovery, but while trying
to keep the children in the home with the
parents if safely possible. So, it really
needs to be initiated by the CPS system, the Child
Protective Service system. We foster the integration among the child welfare system, substance use services, courts, our community partners,
and our sobriety supports. Really bringing
those differences in a professional perspective. And we have been recognized on the CEBC as a program that’s promising research
and scientific evidence. We do serve families that have at least one child in the home between the ages
of zero and five. They can have older
children in the home as well, but they have to have
at least one small child. We focus on quick
access to assessment and treatment services. And we do that really
by partnering with our community partners that
offer the treatment services because we’re in child welfare. We need to work
with our agencies outside who offer
those treatments. We’re really
communicating with one another and doing some cross-training, understanding where
each entity is coming from. And it’s really just
a different approach to looking at
substance use disorder and working with those clients who are
struggling with addiction. So, what are our
overall goals at START? [Inaudible] or
decrease foster care entries, and we are a
child welfare agency. We ultimately want to reduce that recurrence
of child maltreatment. We want to provide
quick and timely access to substance use treatments, ultimately improving that treatment completion rate, which affects the
parental sobriety. We want to make sure that we’re building protective
parenting capacities that are going to
affect child permanency. We want to make sure
that we’re providing comprehensive support to ensure family stability
and self-sufficiency to the children and
their entire family unit. We also want to
increase that capacity to address
co-occurring substance use and child
maltreatment and really begin to change that culture
within the CPS system. No more business
as usual mentality. So, we’re really
kind of looking at how we can do better, how we can all work together. Simply because this is the way we’ve always done things doesn’t necessarily
mean that’s the best way to continue going forward. So, some of the essential
elements to our program. We do pair a child
welfare social worker up with what’s
called a family mentor. I’ll go into a
little bit more detail about the family
mentor here in just a moment. But we pair them up
and we call them a dyad. They’re co-located under a child welfare supervisor in the child welfare agency, and they share a cap caseload of up to 15 cases. So, really each
family that becomes involved with START, they have an entire team that’s surrounding them. And part of that team includes the social worker, the mentor, the supervisor, the START service
coordinator who’s going to get them
through treatment services and really
coordinate each of those, any service providers
and community partners that the family
might be involved with as well as the court personnel. So, really that entire group of individuals
surrounding this family, adding wraparound services to make sure that everybody is being protected
and being served. We have a pretty rapid timeline that we use to quickly identify these families and
then get them engaged into treatment services. We have our
minimum work guidelines for START and that includes at least weekly home visits by the social worker
and the family mentor. And so, we really
want to have some one-on-one attention,
that increased oversight, making sure that we
know what’s going on with that family, what barriers they’re facing, and what’s going well for them. And then it’s an
overall nonpunitive approach. So, not just focusing on what hasn’t worked
well for the family, but really talking
about and acknowledging what are their strengths and then building
on those strengths to make sure that we can help move them forward
in their case claim and their court orders. So, going into more detail
about that family mentor. It’s someone who is
in long-term recovery. We ask that they have at least three years of sobriety when they come to work for us. And then also we’re looking for that personal CPS experience or at least that sensitization of knowing and
understanding what it’s like to parent during your addiction and during that early recovery. And so, this is something really important to consider, that transition
of being a recipient of the child welfare services to now becoming a
member of that team and working for the agency. So, we have to even
look at, that person may have received services at that specific
child welfare office and may have even been served by that particular team. And so, this is especially true in more of the rural areas. So, in
implementing it at your site, this is something we
really need to explore. Not only explore with
the family mentor applicant. So, we definitely
want to make sure that we’re
processing that with them during that interview process of how are their
feelings about the agency now? So, we know that
there were possibly some negative
feelings in the beginning, during their case
that they had open however long ago that was and we need to acknowledge that. That that was normal. There could be some
frustrations or fear. But how are they feeling about working for this agency now? Have they
processed through that? Do they see the
need for the agency to be involved during
that initial crisis period? And have they worked
through all of that? But then we also
want to explore that with members of the
team and other analysis. So, some workers may
be really uncomfortable working with
somebody who used to be a former client of the agency and now that’s their coworker whose office is down the hall. So, what we’ve
actually seen is that, even in those places
where there was some hesitancy, the staff there
actually then began to see the mentor as a resource. So, they begin to see
that office culture change. And it really
challenged our language that we have, that we used. It challenged
how we view clients, how addiction might be used, really challenging that stigma. So, not only just
within our agency, but within the courts and then also with
our outside agencies that we tend to
work closely with. So, we have a
qualitative study in START and it’s called
Life and Marriage. And that’s often how
we refer to our dyads. And it really shows
the positive impact that our family
mentors have on our teams and how working
closely with the family mentor increased the
social worker’s empathy that they had for their clients, which ultimately
led to better services. So, this began to spread to other social workers
outside of the START team, especially those of the investigative social
workers in the family team meeting facilitators. So, if you can
kind of think about investigative workers in
the child welfare system, they have never seen
what recovery looks like because they’re getting involved during that
initial crisis period, maybe getting them connected with certain resources
or treatment services, and then moving them right along to ongoing services. So, it’s very likely that they’ve never
seen that recovery. They don’t know what
that could look like, and it’s very
fearful to see that now a previous client
is working in this agency. So, that’s something
that you really want to talk through,
give them the opportunity to express that. And then discuss
what the value could be of seeing that other side of bringing family
mentors or those peer supports into your agency and
hearing from others. So, shared decision-making is another important strategy that we utilize in START. We hold regular
family team meetings and what we mean by that is we’re bringing
everybody to the table. We want to see the family, the START team
including the supervisor, the worker, the mentor, any community
partners that are involved with the family. And then also
the family supports, whoever they want
to bring to the table that serve as support. And we say, “Say
nothing about me without me.” So, no secrets, no surprises. So, I’m sure a lot of you may feel very
similar to me in that it doesn’t feel very comfortable to think about
somebody coming in to the room with a premade plan of something that myself or my
family will have to do and they’re just
asking me simply to sign it. And I didn’t have
any input in that. That doesn’t feel very good. That doesn’t feel right. Who else should be an
expert on my family than me? So, we really want to
start looking at things about asking the family, “What do you see
as your strengths? What do you think
will work for your family? What are you willing to do? What have you tried
that hasn’t worked?” And really kind of opening that
communication to figure out, “How can we all work together? I want to hear from
the server support systems that the family
has brought forward. I want to hear from
the community agencies that they are
coming to the table.” They may have
additional resources that can help us
keep these children safe and ultimately
helping these families into the recovery
networks that we need. So, wouldn’t we all want to be communicating together? So, some of our sites have been utilizing this strategy
when we implement for it. So, that wasn’t such a
significant change for them. However, some of the sites, this is a
brand-new way of thinking and a brand-new way of really making those decisions, especially around the
potential child review role. So, the idea of
discussing concerns with the family present
at the family team meeting was really challenging for some of those
investigative workers and a time opportunity to sit in on meetings where, after we developed
that plan with the family and they’ve
already left the building, the investigative
worker came up to myself and the rest of the START team with additional concerns that we hadn’t
had an opportunity to talk through with the family. So, you can kind of
see where that plan we just developed
might not be appropriate any longer based
upon these new concerns. We would have had an opportunity to talk through
them with the family. What led to that concern? Can they explain
what’s going on? What services and resources could we have
implemented for that family to address that concern? And so, really,
was that a good use of our time to be
talking about things and not talking about the elephant in the room until after the family has left? I’ve often seen where
investigative workers may come in with
a preset agenda. “This is what my supervisor has given me
permission to discuss today. And this is the plan that we’re
comfortable implementing.” But we wanted to kind of open that communication and be comfortable
with live decision-making. If we have
additional people at the table that may be able to offer supports to the family, then we really
want to be considering those options. So, we should be
making these decisions based off of the information that’s being
provided to us at that moment with all of the
resources in mind. And so, that’s really kind of incorporating everybody and that’s a difficult challenge for people if this is
a new way of thinking, that live decision-making. But it’s really helpful, and we’re all kind of there brainstorming ideas
and really talking through any of those barriers. So, one of our sites is experiencing
challenges in these areas. And so, we began
to engage the staff in those discussions about this and engage the
investigative leadership through ensuring
their participation in these family team meetings. And we also brought
them to the table in what we call a
monthly steering meeting. This is where we kind of discuss our concerns openly; we reviewed early
cases that came in. And then we hired a facilitator through our local
community mental health center to assist in
guiding those meetings and we really began to
get some positive feedback from our investigative
staff and the supervisors on how those
meetings were going. They were feeling
much more comfortable and seeing a lot of
success and saying, “Wow, we really can try to keep these
kids in their homes. We felt very comfortable with the secure safety plan that we developed all together.” So, through our
research over the years, we’ve seen the spreading
of the practice in regions, sometime after
START is implemented. So, all of our counties now have implemented a
utilization review process as a formal consultation when a child’s
at risk of removal. And this involves
regional specialists and the regional leadership, and it’s done whenever a facilitated
family team meeting cannot be held
prior to a relief role. So, we began to see
a shift in our county after START, but
they’re now reporting an increased
focus on considering all in-home options
before the removal occurs. So, this shift has
really been helpful in some areas but
this is a barrier from the CPS end
and the court end, especially as we
move into Family First. And so, we’re now
hearing from staff, they’re very
excited about Family First and those increased
family preservation resources. So, we have had a
rigorous program evaluation since we implemented in 2007. It’s considered an
empowerment evaluation and there’s a close connection between evaluation and program, which has been so important. So, our evaluation team reviews and then they
present our fidelity data consistently to leadership and our direct
line staff at each site as well as across sites. And so, this really enables us to continue to
assess our strengths as well as our challenge areas and for staff to
share their experiences and strategies across sites to ultimately improve services. And then, additionally, it provides us with
our outcome updates. So, just to give an overview of what our outcomes look like, we have nearly
doubled the sobriety rate for women in our program. Children in START
are about half as likely to enter into foster care. At case closure, over 75 percent of our
START kids remain with or were reunified
with their parents. And then for every
dollar spent on START, we save about
$2.22 on the offset of foster care costs. So, that’s just kind of
a quick outcomes overview of that program. And so, I want to just finish up with another
polling question here. In your experience, what have been the benefits of having a peer support program in your agency? So, we talked
about those barriers and challenges. What if any
benefits have you all been able to see? Yes, absolutely,
that buy-in factor. That is critical. Being more willing to complete that case plan if they feel like they have some input. Absolutely. And
our family mentors, our peer supports really assist with that buy-in and
that early engagement. As you can tell, I imagine it’s very difficult to walk into a roomful
of your social workers or other
professionals and feeling like, “You have no idea
what I’ve gone through or what I’m
looking at right now.” And to some extent,
they’re often right. But that family
mentor can step in and say, “But I do. I understand.” They have that kind of “been there, done
that” mentality, right? Families actually
feel more supported. They’re willing to
open up and discuss. So, our family mentors help with transportation
early on in that case. And so, being in that car, it’s not this
glorified taxi driver. It’s really helping
with that engagement. You always talk
about if you have kids, that’s the one time
that you can really open up, is getting them to
talk, in the car, right? It feels a little
bit less invasive. You don’t necessarily need to be staring at each other. And so, the client
begins to open up. The family mentor is
sharing their story. When really all they’re doing is promoting that engagement. Calm nerves, absolutely. Helping the
client to understand. It really
challenges our language. Cabinet employees, I feel we tend to
talk in code sometimes. We have a lot of acronyms. And so, our family mentors will often kind of
challenge us to say, “Slow it down for a minute. What does that mean? Let’s break it
down for the family and make sure
that they understand.” And that’s so important
because it is their case, and we want to make sure that we’re meeting the
client where they’re at. Strength in numbers. Absolutely. The family’s voice
needs to be heard. These are great
things, absolutely. I appreciate the involvement
and the participation. I think now we’re
going to transfer over to Jennifer Marcelli. JENNIFER MARCELLI:
Yes, thank you so much. So, in a moment, we
will be able to head into our question and answer. So, please, if you have any
questions for the presenters, go ahead and type
them in in your chat. I wanted to go
over some resources that the center
has to support you all in this area. As we talked about today, we know healthy,
innovative agency culture that’s aligned
with agency climate can play a significant role in the success of partnerships and change initiatives designed to meet the needs of
families and children. And we’ve developed the Becoming a
Family-Focused System. It’s a collection of
user-friendly resources that are designed
to help teams assess and amplify a positive
agency culture and climate, identify areas
that need attention, and implement
strategies to bring about meaningful and
sustainable improvements. And agencies can
use these resources to assess their
culture and climate, find strategies for improvement, engage staff partners and stakeholders with
podcasts and animated videos, enhance existing
training programs. And you can use these resources to build that
foundational knowledge about culture and climate, the examples of
realized strategies, and to spark
conversation with staff and stakeholders. And I wanted to go into a little bit more detail on some of these products. So, first, we have the
assessing culture and climate. And this provides
foundational information and step-by-step guidance for assessing how
agency culture and climate can support family engagement, continuity of relationships, and collaborative
development of services to meet family needs, much like we talked about today. And managers can use this brief to learn about basic
concepts, form a team, choose or develop
assessment tools, conduct an assessment, and analyze the results. The next product is Strategies for
Building a Culture of Service Collaboration. And this presents strategies to establish the core and reinforce
culture and climate for collaborative development of a service array
that is responsive to families and youth. Managers can adapt
strategies and examples from this publication to improve specific areas of
culture influencing service array
identified in the assessment. We also have the strategies for building our
culture to partner with families. And this offers
strategies to help us support and reinforce
agency culture and climate that’s supportive
of family engagement and the
continuity of relationships for children in care. And managers can
adapt these strategies and examples
from the publication to improve specific areas of culture
influencing family engagement and continuity of relationships that are also
identified in the assessment. So, next, we’re really excited. The next two products that I’m going to
talk about are going to come out next month. And first, we have the How We Partner with a Community to Improve Service
Options Podcast Series. And this will
highlight real stories from the field. Actually,
Kentucky is highlighted in this series
about how agencies are changing
organizational culture from a compliance approach for procuring services towards collaborative development of a service array
that is responsive to families and youth. And staff and
stakeholders will identify with the challenges and barriers these agencies face and can be
inspired by their success. And we are going
to have five episodes that are made from interviews conducted with
child welfare agencies in Kentucky, as I mentioned, and also in DC. And those five episodes — the first one
highlights the framework for change in
the leadership role. The second episode highlights starting and sustaining
collaborative partnerships. The third episode is about including family,
youth, and community voice at the system level. The fourth episode is around shifting to a family-focused
organizational culture. And the fifth episode
is about data sharing for planning and
decision-making. So, we’re excited about
that podcast coming out, again, next month. And then we also have another
additional digital product that’s an animated
video series and it’s called How We Become a
Family-Friendly Agency. And this follows the experience of child welfare
staff, stakeholders, and family leaders as they implement strategies to shift the culture and climate around family engagement and continuity of relationships. And there’s five animated videos that tell the story
of that agency’s journey as it moves from a
compliance-oriented defensive culture toward a more constructive
organizational culture that emphasizes
performance, support, and innovation. And program managers
can use the video series to spark
conversations with staff and stakeholders about assessing and changing agency
culture and climate to really supporting
work and partnership with families. So, the first episode is
called “Walking the Talk.” And that uncovers
staff attitudes and beliefs that stand in the way of
becoming family-focused. In Episode 1, Francie, who’s the agency’s
foster care program manager has a conversation
with two new case workers and discovers the disconnect between what the agency promotes for its vision and mission and what’s actually
happening in practice. And then in
Episode 2, it’s titled “Listening to
Staff and Families” and it describes strategies to change staff attitudes, engage families in
developing their case plans, and keep children in foster care connected with their
families and their community. And in this episode,
Rosa, who’s a parent partner, shows how she joined the team, what she does in her role, and how the work group is helping the agency improve the support and
services provided to families. Episode 3 talks about supporting families and kin and it presents strategies
to promote engagement and support of families and kin and describes the importance
of continuous feedback. In this episode, we
are introduced to Steven, the kinship navigator, and he shares how
he joined the team, what he does in his role, and what the work
group has been doing to help the agency
improve the support and services provided to families. And then in
Episode 4, we highlight partnering with the courts, which we know is very important when we’re looking
at engaging families and shifting culture. And it shows strategies
for child welfare staff to work with the court system to support family involvement. And we hear from Joe, who’s the court
improvement program lead, and he talks about his
experience in the work group and the corresponding changes
made in the court system to improve the
support and services provided to families. And then finally in Episode 5, it’s around reinforcing the
changes that have happened, and it describes practices that embed and changes
in organizational culture. In this final
episode, the case workers, Tyler, Angela, and Lawrence, and the Program
Manager, Francie, talk about all the
changes over that past year and how that has
shifted the culture to better support families. So, we’re really excited about that digital series as well. And then finally, there’s going to be
one additional product added to this as well, which is Improving
Culture Begins with Leaders. And that provides
an at-a-glance look at the critical role
that leadership plays in creating and sustaining positive organizational culture. And you can read this tip sheet to learn about strategies to initiate,
promote, and sustain improved organizational culture through adaptive leadership and modeling collaboration. And then you can
share it with leadership to spark
discussion around supporting that positive change
throughout your agency. So, again, those
first three products are available on our website now and the last three
that I talked about will be available next month. So, we hope you go and
take a look and utilize these in the work that you’re doing. So, with that, I am going to turn
it over to Brandon who is going to get us going with our question and answer. BRANDON: Hey, everyone. My name is Brandon Schlosser. I’m the Young Adult Consultant with the Capacity
Building Center for States. So, first, I just
want to thank you all for taking time
out of your busy days to attend this event. If you have any questions or want to know
more about anything that you’ve seen or heard, feel free to type that
out in the participant chat, and we can get those
questions answered for you. If we cannot get
to your question, we can connect with
you at a later time. So, we already have
some questions flowing in. So, this first one: How does developing a culture for collaborative service array with a system and
partner agencies, for example, sharing similar goals
and focusing on family, support a systemic shift
toward prevention services? Michelle or Jennifer, do you have anything
to say about that one? MICHELLE: Yeah, I
think that bringing families to the table at every level is important to
really commence that shift. And so, start
using family mentors to help with
engagement of our clients and to really get that buy-in on the frontline level. So, we’re able
to kind of look at and utilize their
strengths in moving forward to look at
prevention and services. We also need to
consider parents and youth being at the table at the time that
policies are developed and when
decisions are being made. I think it’s also important to get feedback
from frontline staff as they’re the ones that will be directly providing the services. And from the families, who will ultimately be impacted by these decisions. And I think that will
really help alleviate some of the barriers
along the way. We need to demonstrate that we respect the family’s voice, that that voice is important, and that needs to be embraced from not only a leadership level but at every level. And then it tends
to be less of a shift to value that family’s voice from the
beginning of a case when you’re really looking at
these preventative efforts all the way through to the end when you’re getting
towards permanency. BRANDON: Great, thank you. Yes, family and youth
voice is very powerful. So, moving on to
our second question: What engagement strategies have brought youth to the table and what strategies are helping to keep them engaged? I believe this one
is good for Jennifer. JENNIFER WARREN: Okay. The first thing that I would say is from a distance perspective, the big picture. Our project management structure really fostered that approach and so, it allowed us — it gave us the framework to not just include them — we had a transition
aged youth work group and they had membership on that. But we also included them in our out-of-homecare work. Some of those work groups. And they were on a
permanency work group. So, they were informing us from their perspectives. We also include from The
Voices of the Commonwealth, our youth advocacy group. They are included in
our foster parent training. So, they have a time
when they will come and talk during
foster parent training about how important it is, what they are like. And they normalize the youth — you have folks that
are afraid sometimes to have older
children in their home. And so, they really bring a different
level of information. And we have seen really
good results from that. So, they’re a
part of our training. The other thing
that we did recently over the last
couple of months — you may or may not know this. Kentucky will be
implementing in October the Family First
Prevention Services Act. And we have just
recently finished all of our forums. We went to nine regions. We have nine regions
and we went to all of them. And we had a youth speak at every one of those forums designated for those forums. And he was phenomenal. The level of emotion and just raw
information that he brought about what his
experience was and how there could have just
been services on the front end so maybe some of the
trauma that he encountered in foster care, because that was
very real for him. So, that
conversation has really — you can if you are on Facebook, we have a Facebook page. It’s called
Kentucky’s Department for Community-Based Services. And some of the
forums were recorded live, and you can hear him. His name is Chris Hagans. And the other
thing in phase two, moving forward to
keep them engaged and to keep their
voice at the table, is we merged our
stakeholder advisory group and our sponsors and we created a strategic
partnership work group that will be — moving forward, they
will act as an advisory for our agency and the
work that we’re doing. And the Voices
of the Commonwealth have membership
on that work group. BRANDON: Thank you. It sounds like you have
a lot of great strategies. So, the third question: For those jurisdictions that are just
starting down this path to engage youth and families in their system process, what suggestions do you have about where to start? This can go to either
Michelle or Jennifer. MICHELLE: So, I think just
to kind of piggyback off of what Jennifer was just
saying with the last question, and we have to go
right into that buy-in. But one of the
options could be to begin with a survey to
see where your staff currently are
with their processes. What are they currently doing with their clients? And what are they open to? Because you may find
out that there’s a need for more training that
needs to be put in place or at least more
discussions to be had to understand the
staff comfort levels. And as Jennifer was just saying, inviting a parent representative
or a youth representative to those planning
meetings or work groups — first, they may initially have some hesitancy about this, but really kind of
taking the opportunity to address these concerns, talk through the value
of what that could bring. It can be really
difficult for us to hear that we may
not have done the best job with families in the past, but we can come to it
with a new perspective of learning from this, really valuing the families who are sharing
their experience. And I think, ultimately,
that will help us grow in this shift to
truly integrating those families into
that decision-making. JENNIFER WARREN:
This is Jennifer. I would also add from
a systems perspective, the big picture, their
leadership has to lead that. Their leadership has to buy in. And, what we found very helpful, you start by
looking at your data. What do you know? You have to
understand your systems. And what we did
not want to do was — if I can use this — we didn’t want to
spitball and just start. We looked at our data. We understood what
our challenges were. And so, the project
management structure in those work groups
were built around that. And the other thing
that I would say is embed this into
your CQI process. If you can’t do a project
management type structure, and if you’re a supervisor or you’re at the local level, if you have a CQI
process in your agency, that’s the
greatest place to start because you can just invite them to become part of
the conversation. BRANDON: Thank you so much. So, we have some more
participant questions. The first one is
from Michelle Hemsford. How would a state work
to have START implemented? I think this one
is good for Michelle. MICHELLE: Yeah. So, the purveyor
of our program START is actually
Children and Family Futures. Your state’s leadership
can just contact them directly and begin that process. We do have a START manual, so they would be
providing you that oversight and that
consultation on how to begin. BRANDON: Thank you, Michelle. This next one is
from Rachel Thomas — I’m sorry, from Libby Foster. How big are the counties that have implemented START? Do you have other cases that are done the
“traditional” way? MICHELLE: Yeah, so I think it’s
really kind of spread. We have, as I mentioned, kind of the different sites
that we have across the state. There are larger urban areas even into a little
bit more rural areas. So, at each of our
sites where we have START, there are
non-START investigative and ongoing teams there. And so, we
really work to partner with those other teams. And the hope is to
spread START strategies. And so, while
you may not be able to have all of the
essential elements, of START, including
that rapid timeline and the use of
the family mentors and those contracted entities with the
behavioral health providers, there are other
things that you can use to spread those practices, including that
nonpunitive approach and the shared decision-making and that early engagement. And really that
open communication with treatment providers. So, in all of our sites, they do have that
“traditional” way of CPS cases. But it’s our hope that we’re able to
then kind of spread those START
strategies throughout. BRANDON: So, we
actually have some extensions to that question. This is also from Libby Foster. How many kids in
out-of-homecare on average? And also, how many
family mentors do you have? What do you do if they struggle with their sobriety
while in place with you? MICHELLE: So, is
the question more about how many children
in out-of-homecare within the START
program or within Kentucky? BRANDON: I’m getting the idea that it’s for
Kentucky in general. But if Libby
Foster can type up — within the county it serves. MICHELLE: Within
the county it serves. So, Jennifer may have a
little bit more knowledge as to how many children
in out-of-homecare overall. Jennifer, if you have
some of that information. JENNIFER WARREN: I do, yeah. Overall in the
State of Kentucky, we have 9,660
children in care today. And so, we do have individual
and county information as to what type of cases. We do run those numbers to see if it can maintain
an entire caseload for a START. Since it is capped, we’re looking
for data in showing that what’s
substantiated in regards to substance use
being that primary issue. Those are the families
that we’re working with. And so, I don’t
know specifically in each of those counties how many children
are in out-of-homecare. It is less likely
in the START case, about 50% less likely, to have children
in out-of-homecare if they’re part
of that START model. So, I can’t answer that piece. As far as how many
family mentors we have, we do have 34
family mentor positions across our state in
each of those sites. That does include
some of our vacancies that we have. We’re still hiring
in some of those sites. But 34 altogether. What do we do when see someone struggling with their sobriety? It’s a constant
open communication. We really kind of
foster that new way of supervision as
well of really making sure that the family
mentors feel comfortable coming to their supervisor, coming to their leadership, letting them know beforehand
if they’re struggling, if they’re feeling overwhelmed, talking through those pieces. As I mentioned before, it can be really challenging that we’re asking
somebody to live in recovery and then also work in recovery. And so, that’s kind
of an added challenge. So, we make sure
that the family mentors feel comfortable
discussing that. We have those discussions. As a previous
START supervisor myself, I’ve had those discussions. If somebody needs to
take their lunch break to go to a local meeting, a sober support meeting, then we would encourage that because we want to make sure that we’re all
taking care our ourselves. So, really making
sure that everybody is communicating
with one another. BRANDON: Great. It really sounds
like you’re working with the people that you serve as part of the team. So, that is great. So, our last
question so far at least is from Cherie Houchin. I’m so sorry if I
mispronounced your name. What systems do
you have in place to ensure a
trauma-informed approach in systems you work with? Specifically, what
other nonpunitive approaches do you use, and oversights, to ensure that other systems are using
trauma-informed approach? FEMALE: Yeah,
that’s a great question. And so, you know,
with trauma-informed, we don’t want to be asking, “What’s wrong with you?” But more so,
“What’s happened to you?” And so, part of
our leadership team, there are three directors. We have our Head Director and then I’m the
Assistant Director. We also have a Clinical Director that brings that
behavioral health perspective. So, myself and
the other director are more on the
child welfare piece. But we didn’t want to forget the behavioral health part, which is so important because we want
to be making sure that we’re bridging those gaps between the two entities. And so, really
our Clinical Director works very closely
with all of our contracts at community
mental health agencies on what evidence-based practices they’re providing, including that
trauma-informed information and that evidence. And so, we also have — we train all of our staff
on the child welfare side and on the
behavioral health side in motivational interviewing. And we conduct coaching sessions every other month to make sure that we’re kind of
maintaining that skill and how we’re
working with our families. Another nonpunitive
approach that we also have is when we’re
considering visitation. So, we don’t
want to move directly towards stopping that visitation along with if there’s
a positive drug screen or a return to use. But we’re looking at how can we continue that visitation but while keeping
the children safe? So, if that
needs to be supervised or in a particular setting, then we’re
looking at that as well. We have the same communications or the same discussions
with our court system and not just moving towards taking that visitation away as we’re looking
at that as a right by both the parent and the child to have that contact with
their biological families. So, just kind of some
other nonpunitive ways that we’re
looking at the CPS case. BRANDON: Great, thank you. I hope that that
answers your question, Sherry. We have one more
now from Nicole Barnes. What steps have
you or are you taking to get court
support of the processes you have with the START program? MICHELLE: Yeah, so this is a huge
part of that buy-in factor and we start this very early on. We’ve most recently implemented in two of our newer sites in Northern
Kentucky at the end of April of this year. And so, well before
that, months prior, we were meeting with
each of the court systems — that included the judges and the panel of attorneys for each of the
judges — to make sure we were kind of
explaining that process, what our model was about, what we were hoping to see
spread in those practices, and really kind of
getting that buy-in. It is a challenge
across the board, I think, to look at things differently and not moving forward in fear. Kind of what Jennifer
was explaining before. So, making sure
that we’re listening to those concerns
and understanding — giving them that
opportunity to talk through it. But then again,
also sharing that value, the same thing that
you want to be doing with your frontline
staff in your agency. Some of our
sites have implemented what’s called a START docket and it’s one that’s looked at a little bit differently in that they can have those monthly. Some of them are
set up one day a month where they will bring
in a couple of cases, a handful of cases, and that’s
determined by the team of which cases will be set. And then it’s an opportunity to discuss not just the concern that there was [inaudible] or if there’s a concern for
needing to change placement. But it also gives an opportunity to find in cases where we’re going to talk
about positive changes. Updating the
court to let them know that the parents have
completed another phase of treatment or
they’ve graduated treatment or they’ve
attained and maintained in their self-sufficiency. So, really another way to
celebrate their successes. BRANDON: Yeah,
that’s very important. All right. So, this is
probably the last chance that we have for
questions during the webinar. So, if you have
any more questions, please feel free to type them into the participant chat. We’ll wait a few seconds. But don’t worry. If you have any more
questions after the fact, we can reach out to you. All right,
seeing no one’s typing, I think I will turn it over to Jennifer to
close us up for the day. Thank you, everyone. JENNIFER MARCELLI:
Thank you, Brandon. And thank you so
much to our presenters for today and to all
of your participation. So, on the next
slide we just wanted to make sure that
everybody is aware about our child
welfare virtual expo that the center is putting on. We hope you join us. It’s on
Thursday, September 19th. And this year’s theme is about Effectiveness in Child Welfare: Our Role in Improving the Lives of Children and Families. And so, for those
of you who have been to an expo before, we hope you come back. And for those of
you that haven’t, we hope you
register and come on. It’s a day-long,
virtual conference that you can do from
the comfort of your office or your phone. There’ll be a lot
of engaging sessions and opportunities
to meet and greet with presenters and your peers. So, please check that out. On the screen
there is the website to register and
check out more detail. And then also, we
want to make sure that you all know
how to stay connected to the center and
how you can learn when the rest of the
Becoming Family Focused Suite comes out or other
products and events that the center has going. So, if you haven’t
signed up to get our emails, please do so. On the screen there is
going to be able to do that. So, please do that. And then finally, here is our contact
information at the center. So, as Brandon said,
if there’s questions that come up later and
you want to contact us, you can do so on the
website on your screen. And then finally, we do really
appreciate you guys joining. We have an evaluation survey that we really hope
that you take the time to complete. It really helps
provide feedback to us about how we can
continue to improve our events. All right, well, thank you all again
for joining us today. We hope you learned a
lot of valuable information from our presenters. And have a great day. MALE: We are at the
end of our scheduled time, so we will be
finishing this webinar shortly. Feel free to contact
us using our website, You can also contact
us by our email address, [email protected] or by our phone
number, 844-222-0272. Thank you for joining
us, and have a great day.

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