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March 2022   |   Archive   |   National Adoption Month  

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The Minority Professional Leadership Development (MPLD) program

Leaders who are culturally competent, prepared to be transformational, and mirror the diverse representation of the child welfare population may help agencies respond to the needs of diverse communities while identifying barriers faced by families of color and strategies to overcome them. The Minority Professional Leadership Development (MPLD) program, which is a signature program of the AdoptUSKids collaborative, aims to increase diverse representation and prepare child welfare leaders of color with the skills necessary to address racial inequities on a large scale and create systemic change.

Each MPLD cohort includes about 16 fellows who are selected from across the nation and who are willing to commit to the 12-month fellowship. Each fellow develops and implements an action research project that focuses on identifying effective strategies for promoting systemic change within their respective child welfare systems. Through individualized coaching tailored to the focus of their project, fellows receive guidance on obtaining data, designing implementation plans, and evaluating their strategies. Additionally, fellows receive individualized leadership development coaching focused on the tenets of transformational leadership. In its fourth year, the MPLD program has created a sustained network of leaders who have the training and experience necessary to establish evidence-based practices within child welfare systems.

The MPLD program has completed three cohorts and is currently collaborating with their fourth round of fellows. Outcomes from the first two cohorts indicate that 77 percent of fellows report partially or fully achieving their goals, 80 percent report that the MPLD program has helped them overcome their challenges with data, and over 50 percent have received promotions since participating in the fellowship. MPLD program alumni Shirley Williams stated, "I've developed a strong voice. I've gained the ability to express my ideas and make suggestions that can create change. Now, I want to take what I've learned and pay it forward, to continue to grow and to become that transformational leader who inspires others."

The three resources below highlight action research projects from MPLD program alumni. Michelle Seymore’s action research project, "Moral Injury,” discusses how addressing the emotional fatigue the child welfare workforce experiences is necessary to increase staff retention and positive outcomes for youth and families. Jennifer Lee’s project, “Ensuring Youth Role and Voice in Permanency Planning,” speaks to the necessity of having youth be active participants in detailing their own life stories. Heather La Forme’s action research project, “The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Compliance Policy Enhancement,” details New York State's failure to engage in active efforts to maintain Indian families or find qualified expert witnesses to ensure active efforts were made to avoid placement. As such, La Forme has created her own ICWA Case Process Checklist, which will be disseminated to local districts to highlight the mandated steps for compliance. To learn more about the MPLD program and to get an application, go to


3 Resources on The MPLD Program

Moral Injury



 By Michelle Seymore
AdoptUSKids MPLD


Ensuring Youth Role and Voice in Permanency Planning


By Jennifer Lee
AdoptUSKids MPLD



The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Compliance Policy Enhancement


    By Heather La Forme
AdoptUSKids MPLD




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