Training Matters


Vol. 11, No. 1 • December 2009

Building Awareness and Cultural Competency

New Course Is Required for All Child Welfare Staff within First Year

The NC Division of Social Services now offers Building Awareness and Cultural Competency, a three-day interactive, foundational training designed to enhance the cultural knowledge and sensitivity of social workers and supervisors working with culturally diverse individuals and families. This course was developed by the National Multicultural Institute.

This course is part of the core curriculum that all child welfare workers must receive and is mandatory for all new staff during their first year of employment. Experienced staff are also encouraged to participate in this training. In recognition of the number of core curricula required during the first year of employment, Effects of Separation and Loss on Attachment is no longer a mandated course.

Although it is no longer mandatory, all child welfare staff are still strongly encouraged to attend Effects of Separation and Loss; this course provides vital information about working with families and children and counts toward the 24-hour annual in-service training requirement.

Course Overview
Day one of the training develops participants’ knowledge of significant facts and concepts related to cultural competency, diversity, and inclusion. Content and exercises are used to establish baseline knowledge and shared understandings around the nature of these issues and their impact on participants’ work.

Day two helps participants make connections between theory and their own experiences. Through group work, case studies, brief lectures, and activities, participants develop personal awareness by exploring their own cultural lenses, uncovering implicit biases and automatic assumptions, and examining the potential impact of these factors on interpersonal relationships and human services. This session also allows participants to develop strategies for interpersonal awareness through an exploration of cultural norms and values, communication styles, and approaches to building trust. Awareness-building is a critical first step in developing the competencies necessary for effectively responding to diverse families and communities.

The final day of the training introduces participants to a range of tools that facilitate continued personal awareness, cross-cultural communication and relationship-building, collaboration in multicultural communities, and conflict management, with ample opportunity for practice and reflection during the training session.

The training ends with an action planning session to establish a foundation of support to leverage the knowledge, awareness, and skills learned during the training and to create real and sustainable change.

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Structure of the Training System

Child welfare training in North Carolina is organized in the following way:

100 Series
This series is for those who are just beginning child welfare practice in a county DSS agency. The 100 series builds awareness of basic social work theories and provides practice-related and DSS-specific information. Currently the only course in this series is the pre-service training, Child Welfare in North Carolina. This course must be completed before attending other courses and is required before assuming direct client contact responsibilities.

200 Series
The training events in this series are divided into Tier 1 and Tier 2; both give participants an opportunity to learn about and apply social work theories, procedures, and practices. All child welfare workers and supervisors must complete these courses within the first year of employment.

Tier 1, 200 Series. Courses in this tier build upon the pre-service training by providing participants with extensive information regarding job-specific issues essential to the initial and on-going assessment of children and their families.

Tier 2, 200 Series. Courses in Tier 2 provide child welfare staff with more in-depth knowledge and skills practice regarding job specific information. Child welfare social workers and supervisors must attend the courses in this series that pertain to their job functions (e.g., intake, licensing, etc.).

300 Series
Courses in the 300 series are for staff who possess more than one year’s child welfare experience. These courses refine and expand staff knowledge and skills gained through the 100 and 200 series courses and through on-the-job training. These courses count toward the 24 hours of in-service training required annually by all child welfare staff.

The figure below illustrates the structure of our child welfare training system but is not a comprehensive listing. For a complete listing of courses offered by the system, visit

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2009 Jordan Institute for Families