New Jersey Child Welfare Training Partnership
Established in 2007, the New Jersey Child Welfare Training Partnership is a collaborative effort between the NJ Department of Children and Families (DCF) Office of Training and Professional Development (OTPD) and a DCF-funded University Partnership headed by Rutgers School of Social Work, Institute for Families, Office of Child Welfare Workforce Advancement. The Partnership provides ongoing professional development to the state’s child welfare workforce, most often Division of Child Protection and Permanency (CP&P) caseworkers.
Following a 2005 Children’s Rights lawsuit, New Jersey entered into a Modified Settlement Agreement that established an annual training requirement of 40 hours for NJ’s child welfare workers. This 40-hour threshold is intended to increase knowledge and skills related to the workforce’s interaction with children and families. The Partnership was initially charged with implementing change in the state’s culture of child welfare practice, supporting movement from a case management service delivery model to the state’s current strengths-based, family-centered, and child-focused model of supporting families.
Today, the Partnership exists as a workforce development approach, building the skills and knowledge of more than 5,000 professionals dedicated to the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families across the state. The Partnership provides professional development training to DCF staff on a variety of topics designed to enhance practice with children and families.
Rutgers collaborates with Stockton University’s Child Welfare Education Institute to develop and deliver effective, relevant training courses designed to assist CP&P workers in ensuring the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families.
In an effort to measure participant satisfaction and knowledge gained from attending trainings, surveys and pre/posttests for all course offerings are routinely administered. Satisfaction surveys assess the overall training experience and solicit feedback on the workshop, materials, and instructor. High stakes pre/posttests determine knowledge retention of course content and are unique to each course. Passing scores are set by OTPD; Pre-Service, Foundation, and Mandatory courses require a score of 80% or higher, while Elective courses require 70% or higher on the posttest to pass the course.
NEW WORKER TRAINING
New CP&P workers attend an intensive set of trainings that orient them to DCF, including courses that review federal and state laws related to their responsibilities, provide a history of New Jersey’s child welfare system and reform, promote self-care, and introduce the state’s electronic recordkeeping systems.
PRE-SERVICE AND FOUNDATIONS
Pre-Service and Foundation courses are a set of obligatory trainings that provide fundamental information on building skills critical for child welfare professionals and are mandated by CP&P. These critical courses prepare workers for the overlapping issues between child welfare, mental health, domestic violence, and substance use.
Curriculum development efforts of the Partnership schools provide staff with a wide variety of Electives to supplement learning and skills required of all workers with relevant and timely topics in effectively serving vulnerable children and families. Over 100 elective titles include Girls and Gangs, Technology Addiction, Human Trafficking, and Compulsive Hoarding.