A Story of Partnership and Collaboration

By Kelley, Kathy Jones | Policy & Practice, December 2005 | Go to article overview

A Story of Partnership and Collaboration


Kelley, Kathy Jones, Policy & Practice


SINCE ITS FOUNDING in 1992, the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Training Program has forged a shared vision and commitment among child welfare professionals throughout the state to improve the lives of children and families. Professionals in the program take pride in its commitment to customer service, ability to develop quality services and programs, respect for human diversity in program planning and implementation, and desire to promote an organizational culture within the program and county child welfare agencies based on respect, trust and empowerment. This vision has led to many innovations in the state's child welfare programs, producing and delivering quality training products and technical assistance that help child welfare professionals with their work.

The training program is based on a collaboration among the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare-Office of Children Youth and Families, the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work (where the program has resided since 2000) and the county-level Pennsylvania Children and Youth Administrators. In the past few years, partnership with consultants and organizations such as the Institute for Human Services, the American Humane Association, and the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) has continued to improve the program.

Collaboration Framework

As the idea of developing and delivering a comprehensive in-service training system for child welfare professionals across the commonwealth grew, county and state leaders reviewed several child welfare training models. They eventually selected the competency-based training model developed by Ron Hughes and Judith Rycus of the Institute for Human Services (IHS). Pennsylvania selected that model for its comprehensive nature, ability to assess individual worker training needs, centralized approach to curriculum and trainer development, decentralized approach to training delivery, and the use of practitioners as trainers. Through a centralized management system, the model ensured the same quality of curriculum and trainer skills throughout the commonwealth, while a decentralized delivery system ensured training to meet the unique needs of each county child welfare agency. The model also emphasized the importance of a central steering committee, which comprised county and state leaders and key stakeholders involved in program planning and monitoring and training initiatives.

In 1992, IHS helped the commonwealth set up the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Training Program. A university was selected as central management and seven counties were selected to operate regional training centers. Staff hired to operate the training program used quality assurance committees (QUAC) in developing curriculum and training products and materials. QUAC membership includes county representatives from across the state as well as professionals from partnering human service fields who must accomplish goals set forth by the steering committee. The role of the QUAC is to ensure that all curriculums developed are relevant to the field and promote best practices. In addition to the QUAC process, staff instituted advisory committees in the areas of trainer development, diversity, and supervisory training.

Training Program Evaluation

In 2000, the American Humane Association did an evaluation of the training program. They found the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Competency Based Training and Certification program to be sophisticated and productive and among the top tier of child welfare training programs in the nation. The program was seen as the key to help county agencies restructure to improve performance.

The evaluation led to the relocation of the Central Management of the Training Program to the University of Pittsburgh's School of Social Work in 2002. This move allowed the program to be partnered under the same leadership with the Child Welfare Education of Leadership and Child Welfare Education for Baccalaureate programs. …

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