STARS: Strength, Trauma, and Resilience Studies Certification

Advanced Certification Course

Join the First Cohort!

Developed with input from DCF leadership, lead agency representatives, case management service representatives, and other stakeholders for child welfare professionals, STARS is a university-led, evidence-based, trauma-informed, engaging workforce resilience training that will motivate, educate, and improve the skills of the child welfare workforce to improve child safety.

This course will address coping, stress management, secondary trauma, and primary trauma, as well as explore how trauma history interferes with learning. Participants will build better resilience skills for families.

    Applications Are Open

    Access DETAILED Application Instructions.




    About the Course

    STARS will provide concrete tools for growing child, parental, and family resilience. The course includes 12-18 hours of self-paced, online course content with two virtual, synchronous sessions with a university faculty member to practice and reinforced learned skills. Participants will have additional opportunities to connect with peers and a coach. 

    Sample Resources:

    Always Remember Your Strengths    Your Brain's Happy Chemicals to Fight Stress  

    Characteristics of a Resilient Person 

    STARS is eligible for ceu's by the florida certification board

    stars is connected to advancement criteria on the dcf career ladder

    Eligibility & Application Process

    Eligible participants include Child Welfare Case Managers and Child Welfare Protective Investigators who have finished pre-service training. 

    The application process will include a required letter of support from the participants' supervisors and a required statement of intent from the potential participant.

      How To Apply

      Application Instructions:

      1. Applications for STARS are available through the Institute’s Application Portal (https://fsu-grow.smapply.us)
      2. Register for a user login or login with your current Survey Monkey Apply credentials.
      3. Once you log in, complete the Eligibility Profile (Applicant Information Form).
      4. Return to the "Programs" tab to view available applications.
      5. In the Programs tab, identify the STARS-Cohort 1 option. Select "More" to view details and to access the application.
      6. The "Apply" button will only be available during the open application period. The Apply button will be available September 6-29. Click "Apply" to proceed to the application.
      7. The STARS application consists of three items: 
        1. Applicant Acknowledgement
        2. Statement of Purpose
        3. Supervisor Acknowledgement
      8. Click each item (task) to complete.
      9. Make sure to mark all three tasks as "complete" before submitting the application.
      10. The Supervisor Acknowledgement must be submitted by the applicant's supervisor. Supervisors must submit their acknowledgement no later than September 30. 
      11. Please note that applications are not considered complete until the applicant marks all their tasks as "complete" and the supervisor acknowledgement is submitted. 
      12. The applicant's Statement of Purpose will be reviewed by a committee.
      13. Accepted applicants will receive an "Award" email and will be asked to accept or decline their spot within the Survey Monkey Apply portal. 
       Apply Now!      Download detailed application instructions 


      The STARS application will be open until September 29, or until we receive 100 completed applications. We will make a public announcement on our social media pages once we are close to the limit of applications. Supervisors must submit the Supervisor Acknowledgement for an application to be considered complete. Supervisors have until September 30 to complete their acknowledgement. In the event we receive 100 complete applications before September 29, 2022, the application will close early and all applications without a complete Supervisor Acknowledgement will not be considered.

      Learning Objectives

      The overall learning objectives for the STARS Professional Certification curriculum include:     

      • Understand that trauma is nearly universal and is considered a public health issue because of its potential impacts
      • Describe the mental, physical, and behavioral health problems connected to childhood maltreatment
      • Understand what constitutes individual trauma and related issues including traumatic stress theory, complex trauma, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), polyvictimization, and PTSD
      • Understand how stress from ACEs can affect the developing brain and behavior
      • Recognize common short term and long-term responses to trauma
      • Recognize why child welfare professionals should understand the concepts of trauma and resilience
      • Be familiar with research on the components of resilience, along with individual skills that promote resilience
      • Use a strength-based, culturally competent approach to interacting with individuals and families who have experienced adversity
      • Integrate knowledge about trauma and resilience into a trauma-informed practice
      • Be prepared to work in trauma-informed and trauma-responsive organizations

      Meet the STARS Facilitator & Coach

      Course facilitator: Carol cAMPBELL eDWARDS

      Carol Campbell Edwards, LCSW, (she/her), is the BSW Program and Professional Development Program Director at the Florida State University College of Social Work. In addition to leadership and teaching responsibilities, Carol chairs the College’s Student Affairs Committee and serves on the Faculty Affairs Committee and the Student Advisory Committee.

      Carol is also a member of the University Foundation Board DEI Task Force, the University Exchange Oversight Committee, and the Undergraduate Policy Committee. Carol pursues her passion for child welfare systems change as a member of The Youth Law Center, Quality Parenting Initiative team. Carol’s professional endeavors include the development of curriculum and learning programs utilizing instructional systems design, to transform child welfare systems by facilitating learning in relationship-based approaches to foster care, attachment theory, planful transitions, comfort calls, and multiculturalism in parenting. Carol’s unique approach to training cultivates a learning environment where each person has an opportunity to engage in critical thinking, dialogue, and dynamic learning experiences that affirm core values of respect, justice, and inclusion. Carol served for 27 years in the Florida child welfare system, working with the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Professional Development Centers, and Big Bend Community Based Care (NWF Health Network). Carol’s certifications include FORECAST facilitator, True Colors International, Langevin Learning Systems, and Florida’s Adoptions Competent Therapist program. Carol is a member of Leadership Tallahassee Class 39 and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

      coach: jOHN sHEETZ

      John Sheetz, Florida Child Welfare Certification, MSW, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer on Youth Development in Ukraine shortly after the Orange Revolution. To gain clinical skills and a perspective on American policy, John returned to Florida State University to pursue a Master of Social Work degree. He studied child welfare, emergency preparedness, and refugee services. He conducted research on pain, opioids, and mindfulness.

      After graduation, John became a therapeutic foster care trainer, before pursuing consulting on child welfare services. This work has involved training new case managers across the panhandle, teaching child protective investigators about mental health, and developing evidence-based foster care programs for lead and contract agencies. John has continued international child welfare work by training case managers in Trinidad.

      John and his wife, Bekkah, also served as foster parents in Tallahassee. All of the children placed in their home transitioned to the permanent place they wanted to be. John has been training and coaching individuals since earning his Eagle Scout. He worked for several years teaching team building and leadership at the National High Adventure Sea Base in the Florida Keys. Over the last four years, John has coached Guardian ad Litem Child Advocate Managers and Child Protective Investigator Supervisors on leadership, management, and reflective supervision. John is also a FORECAST facilitator, which uses child welfare simulations to teach trauma informed practices.

      STARS Course Outline

      Sample Resources:

       Always Remember Your Strengths    Your Brain's Happy Chemicals to Fight Stress    Characteristics of a Resilient Person 

       Chapter 1: Traumatic Life Experiences and Health Impacts 

      • Explain the importance of the child welfare professionals’ role in working with persons affected by trauma 
      • Identify how cultural, social, and environmental factors influence children’s and adult experience of trauma 
      • Define different types of trauma 
      • Describe polyvictimization in children 
      • Examine the impact of trauma on children, parenting, and family relationships  

      Chapter 2: Positive and Adverse Childhood Experiences and Relational Health 

      • Explain Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)  
      • Discuss how the Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs) can encourage healthy child development 
      • Describe the public health approach to preventing and addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) 
      • Identify the therapeutic options and child welfare interventions for helping clients who recover from Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)  

       Chapter 3: Trauma-Informed Skills and System Collaboration 

      • Use trauma-sensitive methods of communication to increase the likelihood of shared understanding between client and professional 
      • Describe basic strategies of motivational interviewing 
      • Identify the differences between sympathy and empathy 
      • List the guiding principles of trauma-informed care for child welfare service systems 
      • Identify ways to improve partnership and collaboration across systems  

      First Training Session:

      The first synchronous training session will focus on practicing trauma-informed communication skills and motivational interviewing. 

      Chapter 4: Preventing Secondary Traumatization/Vicarious Trauma 

      • Describe typical workplace stressors  
      • Define and recognize the impact of and primary and vicarious/secondary trauma, burnout, and compassion fatigue 
      • Identify risk and protective factors for primary trauma, and vicarious/secondary trauma, burnout, and compassion fatigue 
      • Identify new skills, including coping strategies and self-care, to prevent and address workplace stress 
      • List steps that leadership can take to improve response to workplace stress 

      Chapter 5: Partnering with Families: Building Family Resilience 

      • Define and Describe Characteristics of Resilience 
      • Identify steps to engage in successful partnerships with families that elevate voices of children, youth, and families  
      • Identify strength-based approaches that build physical and psychological safety of children, youth, and families 
      • Learn the six protective factors that build resilience in children, youth and families and help them heal from trauma 
      • Identify steps to deliver services and social supports to children, youth and families that promote resilience, 
      • Examine the factors that help children, youth, and families with posttraumatic growth  

      Chapter 6: Resilience Toolkit: Practical Tools to Reduce Stress 

      • Examine various research-based stress management techniques 
      • Learn how each stress management technique works to improve functioning and increase resilience. 
      • Learn to practice each technique. 
      • Understand how stress management techniques can be provided to clients to help build resilience skills. 
      • Understand how such techniques can be used by child welfare staff to help build resilience skills. 


      Second training Session:

      The second synchronous training will focus on practicing skills for successful engagement with and building safety for children, youth, and families; assessing and preventing secondary traumatization in child welfare staff and practicing tools that build resilience for clients and child welfare staff.


      1) Is there a cost for this course or any materials?  

      No, this course and all supplemental materials are available to Child Welfare Professionals free of charge.  

      2) What does the online learning portion of the course consist of or require?  

      This portion of the course consists of 6 chapters, totaling 12-18 hours of online coursework. 

      3) What does the facilitated portion of the course consist of or require?  

      The facilitated portions of the course require participants to attend virtual, synchronous, one- day sessions. The first session will occur after the completion of Chapter 3 online content and focuses on: Communication Skills with Clients. The second session will occur after the completion of Chapter 6 online content and focuses on: Family Safety and Workplace Resilience. 

      4) What is the deadline to apply for the Fall cohort?  

      The deadline to apply for the Fall 2022 cohort is Thursday, September 29th at 11:59pm.  

      5) When does access to the online course begin and end?  
      • Online Chapter 1-3 Content Released:  Monday, October 31
      • Online Chapters 1-3 Completion Required by: Friday, February 3
      • Facilitated Session 1: Thursday, February 9
      • Makeup Session 1: Thursday, February 16
      • Chapter 4-6 Online Content Released: Monday, February 20
      • Online Chapter 4-6 Completion Required by: Friday, May 19
      • Facilitated Session 2: Wednesday, May 24
      • Makeup Session 2: Wednesday, May 31
      6) Will I be awarded a certificate?

      Yes, a certificate of completion issued by the Florida Institute for Child Welfare at Florida State University will be issued upon successful completion of all course requirements.  

      7) What happens if I cannot complete the program due to extenuating circumstances?  

      Contact the GROW Center as soon as possible for more guidance. GROW Center staff will work with you to ensure you can complete the program with the next available cohort.  

      8) Who should I contact if I have more questions?  

      Please reach out to ficw-align@fsu.edu for assistance.


      STARS will launch in October 2022


      We are excited to offer STARS to all the Child Welfare Case Managers and Child Welfare Protective Investigators in Florida! Please help us spread awareness about this opportunity.




      For Potential Learners:

      Handouts:  Overview of STARS   Overview of STARS With Course Outline 

      Social Media Graphics:  Join me in Applying to STARS 


      For Supervisors And Agencies:

      Handouts:  Develop Your Employees With STARS  

      Social Media Graphics:  Informational Posts about STARS Support Workforce Development


      Social Media

      Follow the Institute on Social media! Please share our posts about STARS with your followers and tag us!

      @FSUChildWelfare: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin


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