Vermont Family Services Division New Employee Training Program
Foundations for Child Welfare and Youth Justice Casework Practice
The University-State Partnership in Vermont is excited to provide an enhanced training program for new Social Workers employed by the Vermont Department for Children and Families, Family Services Division. The vision for the program took shape over the course of several years when the Division experienced the deaths of two children in their care and the murder of Family Services’ Social Worker, Lara Sobel. Over the past three years, the Federal Child and Family Services Review (CFSR), the Vermont Citizen’s Advisory Board (VCAB) and the Casey Report all independently identified a variety of gaps and challenges in the current training program for Social Workers. Highlights of these reports include:
- DCF should define caseworker professional competencies and standards, and should ensure that caseworkers are properly trained and hold these competencies prior to being assigned cases.
- Training is not available in a timely manner for new caseworkers before they assume a full caseload;
- There are no time frames for initial training requirements;
- There is not a robust assessment of whether the training addresses the basic skills and knowledge required for staff in their positions.
- Train staff to include complete and accurate information on assessments.
- Provide social workers with training and coaching in use of safety plans for cases in which significant safety threats or risks of future harm are identified and children remain in the home or are reunified following out-of-home placement, especially in families with issues of parental substance abuse, mental illness or domestic violence.
- Focus training and coaching on strengthening general assessment skills as well as on specific tools used by FSD.
- Participation in training is not effectively tracked.
In addition, it is well documented that the quality and timeliness of Social Worker training directly impacts staff perception of personal safety, the quality of assessments of abuse/neglect, staff well-being and resilience and the ability to support and retain a healthy and productive workforce.