To meet its goal of increasing leadership skills of mid-level managers in public and Tribal child welfare agencies, the National Child Welfare Leadership Institute (NCWLI) provided leadership training in regional settings to mid-level managers from across the country, including four members of the management team of the Sarasota YMCA Safe Families Coalition (the Coalition), a Community-Based Care (CBC) program serving three Florida counties. As one of the State's 22 CBC Lead Agencies, the Coalition manages subcontracts for case management services with three private agencies Coalition managers participated in the leadership training with two goals in mind:
- Building stronger relationships with their case management agencies in an effort to improve performance
- Improving community connections to reflect a true CBC model
At the time the leadership training began, the Coalition was undergoing downsizing and reorganization. A new management team had been put in place, and that team realized how the organization had moved away from the CBC model. The team members decided to pursue their goals of strengthening collaborative efforts and communication connections through a system change initiative that was aided by the NCWLI leadership training.
As part of the NCWLI program, the four managers participated in two offsite training events and two implementation phases to pursue their system change goals. As a result of the training, the managers were able to fine-tune the initial system change concept and to identify achievable measures for documenting progress and assessing effectiveness of the initiative. They employed a variety of implementation strategies, including peer reviews, in-service training, discussions of performance measures, consensus building, internal case reviews, tracking systems, monthly management reports, and benchmarks.
Collaboration with the case management agencies increased through the system change initiative. In addition, the monthly reports revealed that performance standards for child safety improved significantly as a result of the system change. Improvements were also seen in the percentage of children reunified within 12 months and in other areas. The likelihood of sustainability of these changes is high because of support from management in the YMCA and case management agencies, the improved performance measures, and the initiative's low cost.
Reprinted from Children's Bureau Express, "Site Visit: Leadership Institute Training Improves Child Safety" (http://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov).