Training Matters


Vol. 15, No. 1 March 2014

Over 3,200 Proudly Served

This past year the NC Division of Social Services’ Child Welfare Services Statewide Training Partnership served over 3,200 North Carolina child welfare workers and supervisors through one or more of our training or webinar events. How great is that?!

The Numbers
In collaboration with our training partners, 59 different curricula were offered across 340 training events, utilizing a variety of venues including classroom training, both synchronous and asynchronous (live and self-paced) online training, and six well-attended webinars.

That totals over 2,422 days of training offered this past year!

Satisfied Customers
Proud as we are to offer so many training opportunities to so many of you over the past year, we are even prouder of the participant satisfaction outcome data collected for all our training events. Our NCDSS staff and training partners are dedicated to the continuous quality improvement of our training system. Your feedback helps us make the improvements you want to see.

Last year your satisfaction with the curricula and overall training experience was 97.6% positive. You also indicated that the courses you took were well organized (96.7%), relevant to your jobs (98.1%), had a good combination of learning activities (95.9%), and that your understanding of the subjects covered had increased significantly (94.5%).

As important as this feedback is, even more important to assessing the effectiveness of the training system is whether participants found the training useful and believe they will incorporate the information learned into their child welfare practice. We are happy to report 96.1% of participants reported having developed skills to improve their practice. Nearly 95% felt more capable of performing their jobs and 98.6% said they intend to use their training on the job.

Again, your feedback matters to us. This is your training system. It is our goal to present you with training on topics that interest you, that help equip you to do the difficult and challenging work you do, and that enhance child welfare practice in our state, leading to more positive outcomes for children and families.

As the name of the newsletter reflects, we believe training matters. We welcome your suggestions for improvement for the upcoming year!

Rebecca Huffman is the Team Leader of the Child Welfare Services Staff Development and Training Team within the North Carolina Division of Social Services.

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Revisions Ensure Courses Are Current, Helpful

The field of child welfare is always evolving. To help you keep pace and to ensure child welfare professionals in North Carolina have access to information about the best ways to achieve positive outcomes for families and children, the NC Division of Social Services and its partners are continually revising and updating their training courses. Here is an update on some courses being revised right now.

CPS Intake in Child Welfare Services
The Course: This 3-day, classroom-based course is mandatory within the first year for county DSS employees who receive and screen child maltreatment reports. It teaches about North Carolina’s strengths-based, structured intake process and gives learners a chance to practice using the structured CPS intake tool.

What Will Be Different: The Division of Social Services’ Dee Hunt and Leotis McNeill are leading this revision. Hunt says the new version of this course will be different in two important ways.

First, it will double learners’ skill development opportunities. “We’re going from one to two days of hands-on skill practice,” Hunt says. This will give participants a better sense of what effective intake interviewing looks like.

The other major change to the course is the addition of a custom-made, North Carolina-specific video. As Hunt explains, “We needed something that fit with practice and policy in our state.” When the Division couldn’t find such a video, it partnered with the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work to create one.

Revision of this course is guided by a diverse advisory group that includes county DSS staff (e.g., intake and on-call workers and supervisors) as well as members of the Division’s policy team. This group is helping to ensure the updated course is in line with policy and informed by the experience of those involved in intake every day.

Launch Date: Late spring 2014.


CPS Assessments in Child Welfare Services
The Course: This 4-day, classroom-based course is mandatory within the first year for county DSS employees responsible for completing CPS assessments with families referred for possible child abuse, neglect, or dependency. This course teaches participants how to use a family-centered approach when conducting family assessments and investigative assessments.

What Will Be Different: Division of Social Services’ Crystalle Williams says that though the changes she and her colleague, Holly McNeill, are making to this course aren’t huge, they’re essential. “Currently there’s content in there relating to the work North Carolina did a few years back to validate the SDM risk assessment forms. In the future we’re going to spend less time on that and more on specific policies, such as those relating to the Responsible Individuals List (RIL) and CPS assessments of foster homes.”

“Another thing we’re doing,” Williams says, “is strengthening the section on child interviewing to bring in information related to trauma and basic interviewing techniques. We want to lay a good foundation both for practice and for what people will learn in Introduction to Child Sexual Abuse and Child Forensic Interviewing.”

Launch Date: Summer 2014.


Introduction to Child Sexual Abuse
The Course: This classroom-based elective course gives social workers the foundation they need to identify and assess child sexual abuse. The first three days (Week 1) includes legal definitions and related statutes; personal and societal attitudes regarding sexual abuse; common dynamics in families where sexual abuse has occurred; and policy and best practice in conducting child sexual abuse investigations. Week 2 includes practicing interviewing techniques; working with juvenile offenders; developing family-centered protection and case plans; treatment modalities; and self-care.

What Will Be Different: The UNC-CH School of Social Work’s Jodi Flick is leading this revision. She says this course is being revised for several reasons. One is cross-course consistency. As she puts it, “We need to make sure the messages we’re sending are consistent with those sent in CPS Assessments, Child Forensic Interviewing, Medical Aspects, and Legal Aspects, especially since revisions have been made or will soon be made to several of these courses.”

Flick and her team are also updating what is taught in the course because so much important research has come out in recent years related to sexual abuse.

While the overall content will stay about the same, the new version will place greater emphasis on practicing specific skills. “It’s always been a skill practice course, but we are making that even stronger,” Flick says. “For example, you need to use very different approaches and techniques when interviewing the child, the offender, and the non-offending parent. Our experience has been that participants are OK with interviewing the child, but when they get to interviewing others—especially the offender—emotions get in the way. Participants told us they wanted more time to practice. We’re giving it to them.”

Launch Date: Summer 2014.


Child Development
The Course: All county DSS child welfare staff must take this online course within their first year. It focuses on normal developmental milestones and explores the effects of abuse, neglect, and trauma on child development. Participants also explore the influence of temperament and parenting styles and the importance of positive attachment. Case studies and other activities are used to help participants practice applying what they’ve learned to their work with families.

What Will Be Different: Mellicent Blythe says the team at the UNC-CH School of Social Work are really focusing on trauma as they revise this course.

“We’re taking a close look at this course to make sure it aligns well with Effects of Separation and Loss, Trauma-Informed Behavior Management, and other trauma-informed courses offered in our state,” Blythe says.

Other revisions include building in more transfer of learning activities and making content updates to reflect the latest research related to child development.

Something that will be unchanged in the revised version of this online course is that participants will still have opportunities throughout the training to receive learner support (i.e., access to a course facilitator through online office hours, tips for effectively completing an online training, and help if they need it).

Though it will retain the features that have made it effective in the past, the revised course will also sport a new title: “Child Development and the Effects of Trauma.”

Launch Date: Fall 2014.

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Child Welfare Training and CQI

As you likely have heard, the Child Welfare Services Section at the NC Division of Social Services is implementing a continuous quality improvement model called REAP: “Reaching for Excellence and Accountability in Practice.”

In the simplest terms, continuous quality improvement (CQI) is “an ongoing process by which an agency makes decisions and evaluates its progress” (Watson, 2005). With CQI, agencies use a standard model to analyze data, develop goals and action steps, and track progress. For the Division, the goal is to work with county DSS agencies and other partners to continually improve results for children and families served by our state’s child welfare system.

You can see this reflected in the child welfare training system. As the introductory article by Rebecca Huffman demonstrates, we are always collecting and reviewing information about participant satisfaction and other aspects of training delivery to ensure that training is effective and learners’ needs are met. In part, this process is what is driving the revisions described above.

You can also see CQI reflected in the experiential learning component of the pre-service course taken by all child welfare staff. During this week social workers and supervisors return to their agencies and participate in activities to help them apply what they have learned in the classroom. These experiences provide valuable information participants can use to begin continually refining their effectiveness as child welfare practitioners.

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Key Sources of Information about Child Welfare in North Carolina

Sponsored by the NC Division of Social Services

The Division uses this email list for important updates. Topics addressed recently include changes to the DSS-5094, announcements of learning opportunities connected with national resource centers, and NC policy changes (e.g., recent change to Child Protective Services policy related to the Responsible Individuals List). To subscribe, fill out the form found at

County DSS Child Welfare Supervisors List
This email list shares information relevant to DSS child welfare supervisors. Open only to child welfare supervisors from NC county DSS agencies. We are very selective about what we post so as to not overwhelm supervisors. To sign up please email Vilma Gimenez (

MRS/SOC Meetings
Up to 3 meetings are held each month via phone and online meeting. Topics addressed by recent meetings include CFTs, working with your LME/MCOs, and identifying and serving victims of human trafficking. To be notified of these meetings, email Holly McNeill ( Note: these meetings are recorded. To view the archive, go to and scroll to the bottom of the page.

Notifies you when new issues of Children’s Services Practice Notes, Fostering Perspectives, and Training Matters appear online. To sign up, send email to with “subscribe” in the subject line.

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In Memoriam

In grateful memory of Teresa Turner Ilinitch, Program Administrator for the NC Division of Social Services Child Welfare Staff Development Team, 2004-2009.

Teresa’s infectious hope and optimism, zest for life, and great compassion leaves a legacy for all of us. She lived life in a way that reminded us that every moment and every person matters. She will be so greatly missed by all who knew her.

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Synchronous Online Workshops about CFTs

Continuing education helps us provide quality services to families and is required annually for North Carolina’s county DSS child welfare services staff. Still, it can be difficult to carve out the time to travel out of town for training events.

To overcome this hurdle, increasingly social workers are using a variety of avenues to meet their training needs—in-person, online, and blended.

Synchronous Online Learning
The online training where the trainers and participants are present at the same time is called synchronous online training. In this approach, trainers can share information and participants can engage in conversations with the trainers and each other using microphones, chat, writing on the online whiteboard, and multiple types of voting tools. This makes for a fun, engaging, experience that allows people with various learning styles and preferences to learn together.

The Center for Family and Community Engagement at North Carolina State University provides six family-centered options to help child welfare staff and community partners meet training needs through synchronous online learning. All participants need are a computer, a headset with a microphone, and a few minutes to set up the connection—that, and maybe a “please do not disturb” sign on the door for the next two hours.

Following are brief descriptions of six new synchronous online offerings, most of which focus on child and family team meetings (CFTs).

  • The 3rd Dimension of Supervision: The Role of Supervisors in CFT Meetings. Provides supervisors with insights into how their participation in CFTs can help improve employee performance.

  • Believe and Achieve: Bridging the Gap! Explores how to support foster youth with histories of trauma in achieving their educational goals. Participants learn about adolescent development and trauma in relation to youths’ schooling.

  • Charting the Fatherhood Frontier: Discovering their Perspectives in CFTs. This awareness-building workshop provides ideas for building relationships with fathers and supporting their presence in CFTs. Included are videos of North Carolina fathers telling their stories.

  • The Journey is the Destination: Resilience, Protective Factors, and Youth Success. Focuses on resiliency and protective factors and how to support these in CFTs.

  • Let’s Talk Support: Natural Supports—How Do We Help Families Find and Access Them for CFTs? Provides a helpful tool and information about how to engage families in conversation about bringing support people to their CFTs.

  • Military Families and CFTs. Provides a baseline understanding of the military culture and how it affects family participation in the CFT process.

To learn more about these workshops and to register, go to

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New Feature for Child Welfare Supervisors

A new feature has been added to the Individualized Training Assessment (ITA), the professional development tool for NC county DSS child welfare workers and supervisors found on

With this change, child welfare supervisors can now print out their social workers’ self-assessments (ITA-Part B). Previously, only workers had the ability to print the results.

About the ITA
If you are a supervisor and haven’t yet had a chance to use the ITA, here’s a quick review of how it can help you and your workers with professional development. The ITA has two parts:

Part A provides a comprehensive list of required, recommended, and elective trainings. Workers and their supervisors can see and print their workers’ training requirements based on their job responsibilities. Workers access Part A through their “Personalized Learning Portfolio” (PLP); supervisors access their workers’ training information through the “Supervisor Resources” section.

Part B pinpoints workers’ training interests and priorities and allows them to identify a shorter list of trainings tailored specifically to their needs. In Part B, users assess themselves in terms of a specific set of competencies (knowledge and skills related to job function). This assessment, which takes about 15 minutes, generates a list of recommended trainings based on their responses and training history. Workers can apply to register for training directly from the Part B report.


  • If you are a supervisor and an employee is not in your list of workers, go to the “Supervisor Resources” section and click the “Employee Management” option on the left side of the screen, then add the employee to your list.
  • Supervisors can access their own personal ITA (Parts A and B) via their own PLP.
  • If you have questions about the ITA or any other aspect of, contact the help desk using the site’s Help menu.

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The Shift to a New Version of MAPP

NC Transitions to Trauma-Informed Version of Foster Parent Pre-Service Training

Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (MAPP) is the pre-service training for prospective foster and adoptive parents used by most county DSS and private child-placing agencies in North Carolina. In January 2014, MAPP Leaders (those certified to train MAPP in their agency) in our state were among the first in the country to receive training in the just-released 2013 version of MAPP, Trauma-Informed Partnering for Permanence and Safety: Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (TIPS-MAPP).

The transition to this version of MAPP complements and supports statewide and national efforts to develop a more trauma-informed workforce (including foster/adoptive parents) who understand the effects of trauma on the lives of children and families served by the child welfare system.

This latest version of MAPP incorporates trauma-informed research, philosophy, and practice related to the roles of foster and adoptive parents. Input and materials from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) are incorporated throughout.

In addition to focusing on the safety, permanence, and well-being needs of children in foster care, TIPS-MAPP provides opportunities for prospective parents to gain an understanding of the impact of trauma on the development, needs, and behaviors of both foster/adoptive children and their birth parents. Highlights of the updated curriculum include:

  • Increased emphasis on shared parenting,
  • Case examples that reflect the diverse needs of children in foster care, and
  • Videos that bring the voices of children, birth parents, and foster parents into the classroom.

Staying True to MAPP’s Core
While the MAPP curriculum has been updated, core aspects of the MAPP model central to its effectiveness are unchanged. For example, the parent group sessions are designed to be co-facilitated, with one of the co-facilitators being an experienced foster/adoptive parent who has been certified as a MAPP Leader.

In addition, the mutual assessment of the prospective foster/adoptive parent is designed to begin during the series of parent group sessions, with the first family consultation occurring soon after the completion of meeting three of MAPP’s ten sessions.

Special Resources for NC
The transition to the trauma-informed version of MAPP is supported by a website for North Carolina’s MAPP Leaders and Trainers. This site, available only to child welfare staff members who have completed the MAPP Leader certification process in North Carolina, contains training materials, articles, and other resources for training prospective foster and adoptive parents. Members of the Division of Social Services’ Staff Development team coordinate access to the site for North Carolina’s MAPP Leaders. The site is possible as a result of NC’s collaboration with the Children’s Alliance of Kansas, which owns TIPS-MAPP.

Time Line
Because there are so many agencies and certified MAPP Leaders in NC, the statewide transition to this revised version of MAPP is expected to take about two years.

In the meantime, agencies are encouraged to continue training MAPP-GPS until their agency’s MAPP Leaders can receive the 3-day TIPS-MAPP Leader Update Certification training (ten events scheduled between now and June 2014) or new Leaders complete the 8-day TIPS-MAPP Leader Certification course (three events scheduled between now and June 2014).

Note: agencies that use the PS-Deciding Together curriculum are not required to be re-certified and are encouraged to continue utilizing that curriculum. Please see for more details about upcoming MAPP training events.

Contact Ginger Caldwell (; 919/527-6365).

Key MAPP-Related Information

TIPS-MAPP Leader Update Certification Training

  • March 5-7, 2014, Candler
  • March 5-7, 2014, Fayetteville
  • March 12-14, 2014, Greensboro
  • March 26-28, 2014, Charlotte
  • April 9-11, 2014, Jacksonville
  • April 30-May 2, 2014, Fayetteville
  • May 7-9, 2014, Wilmington
  • May 13-15, 2014, Charlotte
  • May 14-16, 2014, Candler
  • June 3-5, 2014, Greensboro

TIPS-MAPP Leader Certification

  • March 25-28 & April 8-11, 2014, Candler
  • April 8-11 & 22-25, 2014, Fayetteville
  • June 9-12 & 16-19, 2014, Greensboro
  • To register, visit

MAPP Listserv

The Division uses this email list to share information relevant to MAPP. Open only to MAPP-certified leaders. To sign up, email Vilma Gimenez (

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NCDSS-Sponsored Child Welfare Training Available through

Click HERE to view, download, or print a concise, handy table outlining training requirements and all child welfare courses sponsored by the NC Division of Social Services.

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~ Family and Children's Resource Program ~