extended multi-generational, multi-racial family

Child Welfare & Family Well-being

Children and youth have brighter futures when they—and the adults who care for them—have social and emotional support; concrete resources like food, housing, and medical care; and access to education. These protective factors reduce risks to their well-being and promote their resiliency. Child- and family-serving professionals must be equipped to build these connections.

Current Projects

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New Jersey Child Welfare Training Partnership

Established in 2007 in collaboration with NJDCF, IFF leads a University Partnership that trains 5,000 child- and family-serving professionals. The Partnership supports DCP&P's workforce, including frontline workers and supervisors dedicated to supporting children and families, by delivering courses that provide fundamental training on skills and knowledge critical for child welfare practice. Foundational courses prepare professionals for overlapping issues between child welfare, mental health, domestic violence, and substance use.

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Adolescent-Focused Training and Education

High-quality professional development that explores the complexities of adolescent development and transitional needs for independence. Statewide conferences and area summits bring together professionals for networking and practice development.

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Substance Use Disorder Fellowship Certificate Program

Created to support child welfare providers serving caregivers impacted by SUDs, this Fellowship educates professionals serving families impacted by addiction through eight training modules with integrated practical experiences. Feedback from participants reinforces the Fellowship as a highly effective learning experience and platform of dissemination for graduates to share knowledge back with their professional peers.

woman raising her hand in adult education class

New Child Welfare Worker Training Project

IFF is reimagining the foundational learning that prepares newly hired child welfare workers to support the safety and permanency of children. This project includes integrated learning experiences that explore evidence-based practices for supporting caregivers and their children using content that is family-centered, strength-based, healing-centered, and inclusive of a parent’s perspective. Each training phase incorporates asynchronous learning, synchronous learning, field observations, supervised reflections, and coached discussions.

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Learning Management System (LMS)

IFF maintains the Department of Children and Families' learning management system for more than 7,000 users. The LMS serves as an enrollment platform while hosting course materials that include participant guides, handouts, media files, and course evaluation tools.

Community Partnerships and Practice Innovations

Special projects reflect IFF’s mission of advancing a workforce that improves the lives of children and families. Our work includes development of staff training, supervisor training, coaching practices, and comprehensive operational manuals for the following four programs—all framed by the principles and functions of practice for specific program models:

  • Kinship Navigator Programs support caregivers who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their relatives' children. These local kinship-focused agencies help caregivers navigate various forms of community-based caregiving assistance and provide technical support with legal commitments to the child.

  • Supportive Visitation Services are provided through a network of agencies supporting families whose children are in out-of-home placement because of safety concerns. These programs allow parents and their children to come together for bonding and healthy interaction along a continuum of therapeutic and supervised visitations, community-based services, and support after reunification with their birth families.

  • Keeping Families Together provides families with housing and supportive services through a model designed for child welfare–involved families. It provides parents and their children with shelter and complementing support that reduces risks and reinforces family wellness.

  • Family Success Centers offer a “one-stop” family-centered location in communities across the state to provide support and connection before caregivers or youth find themselves in crisis. They bring together concerned community residents, leaders, and community agencies to address the problems that threaten the safety and stability of families and the community.

Past Projects

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Leadership Series for Casework Supervisors

To develop leadership in DCP&P, IFF hosted a specialized series of learning events for middle managers. The 2017 Leadership Series for Casework Supervisors educated 200 professionals over two years through expert-led learning experiences, facilitated networking, and guided learning circles. This experience fostered the application of new knowledge to practice, produced self-reflective portfolios, developed leadership skills, and reinforced competencies that translated into behaviors consistent with DCF's mission, goals, and vision.

young women shaking hands at meet and greet

AmeriCorps Initiative: Aging Up!

IFF participated in an initiative supporting youth aging out of foster care with the NJ Department of State on behalf of the Corporation for National and Community Service. This initiative explored models for involving foster youth in mentoring programs with AmeriCorps service members and developed ideas for building a relationship between them.

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New Jersey Standards for Prevention Programs

New Jersey’s Standards for Prevention Programs outline essential elements for highly effective, strength-based primary and secondary prevention programs. In 2015, IFF conducted an inventory of current practices and provided training and support in embedding these standards across the state’s network of prevention programs. This work was supported with funds from the Children’s Trust Fund under priorities established in collaboration with the Prevention Committee of the NJ Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect.

Contact Us

For more information on our work in child welfare or family well-being, contact us at childwelfare@ssw.rutgers.edu.