Resources from the Institute's 2022 symposium are coming soon. Learn more about:
Promoting Workforce Resilience
The Symposium took place at the Augustus B. Turnbull Florida State Conference Center in Tallahassee Monday, May 9 and Tuesday, May 10.
We explored how to promote workforce resilience for child welfare professionals in the time of the great resignation. Keynote lectures and workshops will covered topics related to preparation, recruitment and onboarding; holistic well-being of workers; workforce support; and organizational efforts. Attendees learned from and networked with experts and leaders in child welfare from across the state and country.
The Institute is strategically implementing the Florida Legislature’s vision for addressing the needs of the child welfare workforce through our new GROW Center’s professional advancement offerings. The GROW Center is designed to create a dynamic through line from classroom to casework to retain workers who grow competently into leaders at all levels of the workforce. During the Symposium, the GROW Center team will shared our plans as we embark on this exciting challenge.
Twelve Workshops Across Four Tracks
Preparation, Recruitment, & Onboarding
Innovate ways to prepare, recruit, onboard, and retain child welfare professionals using virtual reality, simulation, and pioneering research.
Holistic Well-Being of Workers
Create holistic ways to promote the well-being of child welfare professionals, particularly considering COVID-19, workers' life-work balance, and mental health.
Support the child welfare workforce in meaningful ways, such as leadership development and peer support.
Improve organizational efforts around diversity, equity and inclusion, multi-disciplinary collaboration, and dealing with client-perpetuated violence.
Monday, May 9: Dr. Dina Wilke
Tales from the Frontline: Findings from the Florida Study of Professionals for Safe Families
Dina J. Wilke, PhD, is a Professor in the College of Social Work at Florida State University and a Faculty Affiliate with the Florida Institute for Child Welfare. She is the Director of the Florida Study of Professionals for Safe Families (FSPSF), a longitudinal study that followed 1,500 newly hired case managers and child protective investigators for 3 ½ years following pre-service training. Beyond her research interest in professional training and development, Dr. Wilke also focuses on intimate partner violence. Dr. Wilke received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her MSW from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her clinical experience focused on adolescent and young adult substance abuse intervention.
The child welfare workforce is the backbone of the system that protects children and helps them to thrive. The health and well-being of this workforce is of critical importance given the challenges inherent in this work. In her keynote address, Dr. Wilke will discuss findings from the FSPSF focusing on factors that influence turnover, retention, and well-being among Florida’s child welfare workforce.
Tuesday, May 10: Dr. Amelia Franck Meyer
The Child Welfare Workforce Crisis: What if We Are “Forcing” the Wrong “Work?”
Dr. Amelia Franck Meyer is the founder and CEO of the national non-profit, Alia: innovations for people and systems impacted by childhood trauma. Amelia and Team Alia are leading a national movement to keep children safe with, not from, their families.
Alia works with child welfare leaders who are innovators and early adapters in jurisdictions around the country and the globe to create transformational change child welfare. The new way of work is referred to as an “UnSystem;” although we don’t know what the new way will eventually be called, we know it’s not this system. Team Alia’s work falls into two categories: Evolutionary—building the capacity for change and Revolutionary—co-designing new ways to keep families safely together.
Alia’s Evolutionary work is accomplished through workforce well-being, change strategy, preparing and protecting leaders, teaching systems to how to get older youth to permanency and building empathic and trauma-informed care into child welfare practices. Alia’s Revolutionary work is done working in partnership with youth, families, communities and systems leaders to co-create the conditions that obsolete the need for family separation. Alia accomplishes its work using an anti-racist approach and co-designs new ways of work with youth, families and communities using Human Centered Design. Alia’s approach is to live our value of “Doing what love would do.”
Amelia was named as one of People Magazine’s “25 Women Changing the World” in 2018, and in 2020, Amelia was also named by AARP MN and Pollen Midwest as a 50over50 Honoree—System Reformer in the Disruptor Category. Amelia has a widely viewed TEDx Talk on the Human Need for Belonging. Along with many awards from her alma maters, Amelia has also been honored was a Bush Fellow and an Ashoka Fellow.
Derrick Stephens, MBA, LCSW, QS (Qualified Supervisor) serves as Research Faculty with Florida State University College of Medicine, Department of Behavioral Sciences and Social Medicine offering behavioral health training and consulting through sponsored projects. He has recently worked with Guardium ad litem and is currently working with child protective investigators, supervisors and leadership at Florida’s Department of Children and Families.
Mr. Stephens has been a lifelong advocate for vulnerable children and families involved with the child welfare system. His passion and dedication stem from his personal journey spending his childhood in and out of the Georgia and Florida foster care system due to his mother and father’s battle with substance use disorder and mental illness. Mr. Stephens’s mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and at age 10, his father committed suicide after murdering his girlfriend in an Atlanta hotel room. Mr. Stephens is dedicated to ensuring access to education, physical and mental wellness, and innovative technology such as virtual/augmented reality for foster youth and alumni are universal.
He also is President and CEO of Phoenix Healthcare Consultants and the founder of Underdog Dream, a 501c not-for-profit working to provide foster youth with the opportunity to imagine the possibilities, see a future filled with purpose, and live with intention.
Workshop Descriptions: Breakout Session 1
“Are we missing the mark?” An Evaluation of Case Manager Hiring Profiles and Retention Practices.
Case management recruitment and retention have been priorities in the state of Florida for decades. However, the effects of the pandemic on various employment variables such as tenure, flexibility, and pay has accelerated the need to examine factors that influence recruitment and retention of case managers to serve the needs of children and families utilizing case management services. This session will review the study of case manager profiles and recruitment practices of a community-based care organization. Participants will engage in active discussions to offer additional insight on both the challenges and potential solutions to improve workforce stability of child welfare professionals.
Creating Leadership Manifestos: A Tool for Intentional Leadership
During this interactive session, participants will learn how to create leadership manifestos to guide decision-making and capture their professional vision. Concepts covered will include leadership and employee retention, operationalizing values, staff expectations, organizational culture, and diversity and inclusion.
Promoting Collaboration and Support to the Workforce to Create Better Outcomes for Children
There is a direct correlation between case management turnover and achieving timely permanency for children in out-of-home care. One of the greatest drivers of permanency for children is stability in the case management workforce. Studies have shown leading causes of turnover include excessive workload, administrative burdens, and burnout. Many traditional case management models still rely on outdated processes and depend on case managers to manage every aspect of a case—from referrals, transportation, court documentation, and more. As turnover increases, these burdens can compound as workload increases for those who remain, perpetuating the stress and limiting the capacity for resilience amongst the team.
Children's Home Society of Florida has created and implemented a model involving people, processes, and technology called CaseAIM. Through direct support from a team of specialists to assist with case management tasks as well as a transportation team coordinated to increase capacity and utilization, burden can start to be lifted from the case managers, increasing actual time spent face-to-face with the children and families served. Adding in efficient processes and technology solutions such as the Caseworker Hub application and the CaseAIM Intake Matching tool increase the case manager's ability to be in control and be better drivers of their work.
Children assigned to case managers using CaseAIM have spent nearly 100 fewer days in foster care and are more likely to achieve permanency within 12 month (61% of children working with CaseAIM units exited foster care within 12 months, versus 45% of those not with CaseAIM units). Those families have experienced fewer case manager turnover events, creating stability for children and leading to stronger relationships, deeper trust, and better outcomes.
"Just Part of the job"? Client violence among child protective service workers
Dina Wilke, Melissa Radey, & Lisa Magruder
Child welfare workers are particularly vulnerable to violence, specifically client violence in which the perpetrator becomes violent while receiving client services. The nature of CPS work (e.g., threat of child removal, hostile clients, dangerous neighborhoods) places workers in unique and violent-prone environments. The overall goal of this presentation is to examine client violence and its role in lives of CPS workers. Specifically, the presenters will use the Florida Study of Professionals for Safe Families data and its qualitative sub-study on client violence to:
- Define client violence relative to child welfare workers
- Determine the prevalence of client violence by type (i.e., verbal abuse, threats, assaults)
- Determine the worker-related consequences of client violence
- Identify agency strategies for prevention and mitigation of client violence
Workshop Descriptions: Breakout Session 2
Moving from Procedure to Practice: Simulation Training for Frontline Professionals
Betsy Goulet & Amy Wheeler
The Child Protection Training Academy (CPTA) was established through a partnership with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. The University of Illinois Springfield worked with the Department to enact legislation to support the use of simulation training in child welfare and develop the CPTA on the UIS campus. The CPTA has trained over 1,000 new child protection investigators since opening in February 2016 and expanded the model to Chicago in April 2019. “Moving from Procedure to Practice” is an overview of the development of the model, the evaluation of the program and the trainee feedback that continues to inform the evolving needs of the field.
I don’t think I can do this anymore! Building your Resilience to Stay in the Game
Amelia Franck Meyer
Our work has always been challenging work, but most of us have never seen times like these before. The demands on the people we serve, and on our workforce, are creating more challenges than we are accustomed to handling. This training will focus in on the practical, small mindset changes and practices that can help you to persist through challenging times to make it through to better times. You’ll leave feeling refreshed and more hopeful, with a pocket full of tricks to keep you fueled for what’s ahead.
- Understand the difference between secondary traumatic stress and burnout and the warning signs for both.
- Understand the mindset and practices that build individual and organizational resilience.
- Build an individual Personal Care Plan to identify early warning signs of burnout and a plan to respond.
Developing Child Welfare Leaders through Problem-based Learning Programs
Transformative child welfare systems change requires leaders at all levels to be nimble and adaptive. In order to manage the “whitewater” of child welfare, leaders must be provided opportunities to practice and discuss key leadership competencies and skills. The National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) Leadership Academy supports leaders in developing the necessary skills to build and sustain an equitable and positive organizational climate and manage systems change. Using a problem-based learning approach accompanied with developmental coaching, program participants are provided with a space to critically think and ask questions and explore multiple strategies to solve complex adaptive problems.
This 75-minute interactive session will provide participants the opportunity to review the origin of the NCWWI Leadership Academy, discuss key program concepts, highlight developmental coaching as a transfer of learning tool, and participate in engaging learning activities.
Authentic Family Engagement and Justice-Centered Child Welfare Practice
Marianna Colvin, Morgan Cooley, Corey Best, & Vaughn Crichlow
The Authentic Family Engagement and Strengthening (AFES) approach was developed through a community-wide effort to help child welfare investigators expand their knowledge of racial justice within the context of child welfare systems and to better collaborate with and serve Black families impacted by child welfare investigation. This presentation will utilize both research and practice knowledge to discuss how a systems change effort was implemented in Broward County, Florida. Presenters will discuss the background, rationale, process, and initial outcomes of the AFES pilot. In addition, presenters will talk about next steps to encourage participants to:
- Consider how to create justice-centered change in their own work environments
- Explore ways to deepen their understanding of racial justice in child welfare practice
- Explore values and beliefs that shape interactions with families impacted by the child welfare system
- Expand their justice-centered practice skills in partnering with families impacted by child welfare services.
Workshop Descriptions: Breakout Session 3
VEnueS: Using Tech to Tackle Implicit Bias in Service Delivery
How can we take on implicit bias without putting families and children at greater risk? The answer could be using virtual reality technology to replicate experiences caseworkers have in the field. Seven jurisdictions are already using the Accenture Virtual Experience Solution (AVEnueS) to support recruitment and retention and bolster caseworker confidence. Now Accenture has a new scenario devoted specifically to the issue of race equity. Learn how this scenario helps users reflect on how their own bias affects decision making. Hear what cumulative user data can teach us about moments when decision making falls along a color line. In short, discover how AVEnueS uses tech to shift the way an entire field of work impacts black and brown children across the country.
Reframing the discussion “What can we do to prevent employees from leaving?” to “What can we do to encourage employees to stay?”
Teri Saunders, Riaan van Zyl, & Kerry Littlewood
This workshop will include a brief review of strategies reported in the literature to remedy the problem of high turnover rates in child welfare organizations. A discussion about studies that documented personal and organizational factors that influence employee retention in child welfare will follow. The presenters will also share the how the Heartland for Children’s taskforce on retention (“What can we do to encourage employees to stay?”) made it easier to implement strategies and solutions that benefitted the organization and its employees.
Strategies that cover the following themes will be discussed:
- Highlighting superior practice or recognizing case managers efforts
- Triaging more difficult or complex cases to those who received more training
- Using supervision as a mechanism to contribute and improve organizational culture and climate
- Managing worker stress
- Job rewards beside pay
- Understanding the impact of worker profiles
- COVID-19 and retention
The workshop will also provide an open space for participants to share their experiences of retention, how they have stayed the course through various cycles, and encourage participants to share their own lessons learned.
S.O.S.: Support our Supervisors
Holly Cummings, Brie Southall, & Taylor Steurer
The Florida Department of Children and Families—Northwest Region, has worked tirelessly to overcome staffing barriers through the implementation of several new programs. This interactive workshop will highlight Support our Supervisors (SOS) and The Northwest Assessment Response Team (NWR ART).
The SOS initiative is an opportunity for seasoned supervisors to support supervisors throughout the region. One aspect of SOS is to provide mentorship to newly onboarded supervisors. When accepted to the program because of their exemplary supervision, mentors are able to further establish and pass on their legacies by advising their mentees of investigative tasks and team building within units. The overall consensus is that SOS is a program where ideas are shared, comradery is had, and participants are supportive of one another as they enhance the capacities of our frontline supervisors.
The NWR ART is a specialized unit comprised solely of senior child protective investigators and supervision who provide secondary screening decisions and assessments on intakes received by the Florida Abuse Hotline. Each assessor is proficient in the Department's operating procedures and are tasked to provide a specialized assessment based on the review of the intake. Upon further assessment, assessors determine the best response tailored specifically to meet the needs of the children and families serviced, as well as determine if further involvement is necessary after a comprehensive review.
There is great passion within each of these initiatives. The presenters will discuss specifics related to each item within the workshop and invite collaboration and continued efforts to highlight and strengthen the resiliency of Florida's amazing workforce!
Bridging Us: Platform, Position & Power to Heal
Derrick Stephens & Jessica Quinones
The passage of the Families First Prevention Act, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Great Resignation have created an opportunity for families, communities, and child welfare professionals to collaborate, heal, and establish what strengthening families and promoting workforce resilience will mean for Florida’s child welfare system.
Facilitated by two individuals with lived and living child welfare experience, this workshop aims to create a space, opportunity, and environment to allow attendees to learn, collaborate, socialize, and develop alongside one another. Working together, attendees will gain a greater understanding and appreciation for the challenges, opportunities, and solutions families, workers, and organizations face within the Child Welfare System.
- Promote the importance of developing relational verses transactional connections to promote healing and resiliency for families, communities, and child welfare professionals.
- Promote the importance of providing platforms, positions, and power for individual with lived and living experiences to collaborate on transformation solutions within child welfare.
- Motivate decision-makers to challenge traditional, linear, and non-disruptive thinking within child welfare.
- Motivate decision-makers to move beyond crisis management and consistently think strategically about the forces of disruption and innovation available to shape the future of child welfare.
Help us Give Back
The Institute is requesting that participants bring diapers for donation to the Tallahassee Area Foster and Adoptive Parent Association. The Association supports foster parents in 13 counties throughout the Big Bend area where almost 900 children are in out-of-home care, including 207 Level 2 traditional foster families and 280 Level 1 licensed kinship care families
We will be collecting diapers to donate to the Tallahassee Area FAPA on both days of the Symposium. The Association noted that diapers of all sizes are needed, and will distribute them to families as appropriate.
For each packet of diapers donated, you will receive one raffle ticket for our giveaway bag. We appreciate any support you can provide!
Vision: A Florida where children thrive because their foster and adoptive parents are fully empowered and recognized as expert partners in developing healthy families.
Mission: To support, educate, and advocate on behalf of foster and adoptive families.
Continuing education opportunities
The two keynote lectures and most workshops will earn one (1) continuing education contact hour at no cost for the following licenses: Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling, Certified Master Social Worker, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and Licensed Mental Health Counselor (1 credit per keynote address and specified eligible workshops). One (1) continuing education contact hour is also available for child welfare professionals through the Florida Certification Board (1 credit per keynote address and specified eligible workshops).
Become a sponsor or exhibitor!
Sponsorship of the 2022 Symposium is an opportunity to highlight your organization as leaders in supporting the child welfare workforce in Florida. Symposium attendees will include key leadership from Florida's state departments, community agencies serving at-risk families, those involved in child welfare or juvenile justice, and key legislative partners. Learn more about becoming an Advocate, Champion, or Change-maker Sponsor in our Call for Sponsors, and submit your sponsorship agreement by April 15.
The Institute is also pleased to offer exhibit tables. Submit your agreement form by April 30.
Questions about sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities can be directed to Marianna Tutwiler, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lodging for the 2022 Symposium is available at:
Residence Inn Tallahassee Universities and Capitol
600 W. Gaines Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32309
Reserve your room at the group rate! Click here.
- Start Date: May 6
- End Date: May 10
- Last Day to Book: April 18
The Residence Inn is conveniently located downtown within walking distance to the Augustus B. Turnbull Conference Center and 5 miles from the Tallahassee Regional Airport. The deadline to ensure the FICW Symposium group rate is April 18, 2022. Rooms are available on a first come, first serve basis. All hotel reservations, changes or cancellations should be made directly with the Residence Inn Tallahassee Universities & Capitol.
*Room rates are quoted exclusive of applicable state and local taxes or applicable service, parking, or other hotel-specific fees.
Special Thanks To Our Sponsors
Change-Maker Sponsor: Reception and Lunch
Selfless love foundation
Champion Sponsor: Keynote Address: Dr. Amelia Franck Meyer
Children’s Home Society of Florida
Advocate Sponsor: Breakfast
Advocate Sponsor: Poster Presentations