Training Matters


Vol. 16, No. 1 January 2015

Focusing on Training Outcomes

Happy New Year! Here at the NC Division of Social Services’ Staff Development Team, our resolution for 2015 is to use continuous quality improvement (CQI) to better serve every county DSS agency in North Carolina. To keep this resolution, we pledge to gather the best quantitative and qualitative information available and use it to make effective decisions about training.

Fortunately, when it comes to quantitative training data we have a great source: Although most people know it as the online portal NC’s child welfare professionals use to learn about, register for, and take classes, this site is also a sophisticated data collection system. Queries into this system allow us to see the “big picture” of training utilization in our state at any given point in time, or even over multiple years. Reports generated by help us understand our training program’s performance—and how it can be improved.

Through, we know the total number of participants served through classroom, online, and webinar training events. The site lets us “drill down” to see details such as the number of times a particular course is offered, how many people attend a specific event, the number of people who attend training from each county, and much more. The portal also tells us about participants’ satisfaction, including what they think about training content and the effectiveness of trainers.

Qualitative data is equally important to our continuous quality improvement efforts. Much of this takes the form of conversations with and emails from workers, supervisors, program managers, and agency directors across the state. We deeply value your suggestions for strengthening our training system. Feedback from our own trainers and the other NCDSS teams is also incorporated into our improvement processes, as is our ongoing reading, research, and identification of best practices in child welfare nationwide.

All of this “data” allows us to thoroughly assess the efficiency and effectiveness of training delivery. CQI helps the Staff Development Team:

  • Identify courses that need updating and areas of the training system that need improvement,
  • Use our trainers wisely, and
  • Make informed decisions about the type, location, and number of training events we offer.

One final important point: you are a critical part of our CQI process. Please continue giving us candid input so we can improve our training system and better meet your county’s needs in 2015 and beyond.

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

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Making Sure Courses Are Current, Helpful

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 recent revisions.

Adoption Assistance Eligibility

The Course: Those who attend this 2-hour, instructor-led online course leave knowing how to determine eligibility for adoption assistance, and with a full understanding of requirements for vendor payments and non-recurring costs.

Target Audience: County DSS staff responsible for determining children’s eligibility for adoption assistance and non-recurring costs for adoption, as well as staff responsible for managing requests for vendor payments on an ongoing basis.

What Will Be Different? Previously Adoption Assistance Eligibility was a day-long classroom course. Why the change? Developer, trainer, and subject matter expert Susan Sanderson, a Children’s Program Representative for the NC Division of Social Services, says the revision of this course was driven by a desire to improve timeliness and accessibility to agencies.

“Before, we offered this course on a somewhat informal basis,” Sanderson says, “delivering it on-site in counties when they requested it. We’ve moved to a ‘live’ online format because we want to be sure people across the state can get this information when they need it.” And, in the process of revision Sanderson was able to make the course much shorter—an added bonus!

Future Offerings: Adoption Assistance Eligibility is offered four times a year. Class size is large—up to 50 people can attend each event.


Assessing and Strengthening Attachment

The Course: This two-day classroom training, which replaces the course Effects of Separation and Loss on Attachment (ESL), teaches participants about the attachment process, how secure and insecure attachment affect child development, and how to assess and build secure attachments between children and their caregivers.

Target Audience: Because it teaches skills and knowledge that are helpful when working with families at any stage of the child welfare process, all child welfare professionals can benefit from taking this course.

What Will Be Different? “A lot!” says Ashton Williams, a Clinical Instructor with the Jordan Institute for Families at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work. Williams, who helped develop and now trains the course, says that although the initial idea was to simply revise and update ESL, the changes were so significant a name change was in order.

“In ASA there’s much more focus on giving participants concrete examples and tools to help them assess attachment between caregivers and children and, after the assessment, to promote and strengthen attachment,” Williams says. “We also teach people how trauma affects attachment—for example, when parents have unresolved trauma histories—and how to help when they see that happening.”

Future Offerings: ASA will be offered three times between January and June 2015.


Engaging the Non-Resident Father for Child Welfare Staff

The Course: This two-day classroom-based course builds learners’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes so they can more effectively engage non-resident fathers in child welfare cases. Engaging the Non-Resident Father uses a diversity of learning approaches, including interactive lecture, small and large group activities, and experiential exercises.

Target Audience: This course is recommended for all North Carolina county DSS child welfare social workers, supervisors, and program managers.

What Will Be Different? Although a course with a similar name has been offered in the past, Engaging the Non-Resident Father is totally new and quite popular: most events are filled to capacity, and often there are waiting lists.

Interest in this course, according to Leotis McNeil, the NC Division of Social Services’ leader on this curriculum, stems from the fact child welfare workers see engaging fathers as an area of practice that needs to be strengthened in our state. “People understand that, while it can be challenging, engaging fathers in child welfare is still our job.”

McNeil admits there can be barriers when working with non-resident fathers. Sometimes a dad will explicitly tell us he can’t be bothered to be involved in his child’s life. This may be due to a desire not to be involved with CPS, a long history of the child’s mother excluding him from the child’s life, or other factors.

“But when this happens, we can’t stop there,” he says. “We need to find out why the dad is taking this stance. Even if fathers don’t want to be involved, they have family. The paternal side of the family needs to be engaged. Dad may have a sister who could be there for that child. The child has a right to be connected to that side of the family.”

McNeil strongly encourages county DSS administrators to attend this and all other Division-sponsored child welfare trainings. “Administrators need to know what workers are learning. Also, going to training will help them show they value what is being taught and send the message that they want to see workers apply what they’re learning when they get back to the agency.”

Future Offerings: Engaging the Non-Resident Father will be offered twice between January and June 2015.

To learn more about these courses or to register, go to

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Implementation of TIPS-MAPP Ahead of Schedule

The last issue of Training Matters described how foster parent pre-service training in North Carolina is changing. Specifically, the NC Division of Social Services’ is moving from MAPP/GPS, which it has been endorsing for years, to an updated version of MAPP called Trauma-Informed Partnering for Permanence and Safety: Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (TIPS-MAPP).

Because most of our child-placing agencies use MAPP, this change is a big one for our state. Recently Training Matters talked to the NC Division of Social Services’ Ginger Caldwell, one of several trainers certified by the Children’s Alliance of Kansas to certify MAPP Leaders, to get an update on this effort.

The Division’s goal is to certify all of NC’s MAPP leaders to use TIPS-MAPP. How’s that effort going?

Very well. When we began we thought it would take a couple years to transition to TIPS-MAPP. Now we think all certified leaders will be delivering TIPS-MAPP by the end of 2015—six months ahead of schedule.

Since July 2013 we’ve certified 467 people to train TIPS-MAPP. That includes 280 leaders from county DSS’s and 187 from private agencies. This high number shows what a high priority the transition to TIPS-MAPP is for the Division and its child-placing agency partners.

Do people like this new version?

The response has been really positive. People love the course content. They also love that there’s a website exclusively for MAPP Leaders that has handouts, slides, and other resources for training foster and adoptive parents. There are 458 TIPS-MAPP leaders in our state that have access to the site.

How will using TIPS-MAPP help NC?

This version does a better job of helping prospective foster and adoptive parents understand the impact of trauma on the development, needs, and behaviors of both children and their birth parents. There’s also more emphasis on shared parenting and other improvements that make this course a better tool for helping families decide whether fostering or adopting is right for them.

Since TIPS-MAPP covers shared parenting, life books, and other topics, sometimes people ask me, “Is this all we need to give foster parents about these topics?”

No! MAPP is just a start. It’s not intended to replace ongoing in-service training on these or other topics. There’s a misconception that pre-service training can somehow meet families’ training needs for years.

I can’t overstate how important it is to give families ongoing learning opportunities.

Anything else you’d like to say about TIPS-MAPP?

One issue we continue to struggle with is agencies that do not deliver the course as it has been designed to be delivered.

Like the other versions of MAPP before it, TIPS-MAPP is meant to be a series of weekly, 3-hour meetings delivered over the course of ten weeks. We’re very clear about this, but some agencies look for ways to shorten the time by delivering the course in a series of three or four Saturdays.

This material is intense. Families need time between those ten MAPP meetings to digest what they’ve learned, so they can make an informed decision about fostering and/or adopting. When you rush, when you deviate from that model, it is less effective.
People who have tried it both ways—the compressed version and delivering MAPP with fidelity—say delivering MAPP as intended strengthens partnerships between foster families and agencies, leading to better results for children.

If you have questions about TIPS-MAPP, please contact Ginger Caldwell (; 919/527-6365).

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North Carolina’s New Course on Visitation

Visits are one of our best tools for maintaining parent-child connections and reunifying families safely. Yet child welfare professionals and their agencies often spend very little time thinking about how to make family visits successful.

To assist them, in spring 2015 the NC Division of Social Services, in partnership with the Jordan Institute for Families at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work, will begin offering Visitation Matters, a 2-day classroom-based course designed to teach you the knowledge and skills you need to manage the challenges and maximize the benefits of parent-child visits. For more information or to register, visit

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How to Register for Training

Last year the NC Division of Social Services Child Welfare Services Statewide Training Partnership offered more than 50 courses to North Carolina’s child welfare professionals. Here’s how to take advantage of this sensational smorgasbord of learning opportunities.
To apply to register for Division-sponsored training events you need an account on Only child welfare staff from North Carolina county departments of social services and North Carolina private child-placing agencies are eligible for an account.

Once you have an account, go to, log in, and click on the “Find a Training” button. A menu will appear; use it to find course descriptions and a schedule of course offerings. Once you find your desired training event, click on “Submit Application for Registration.”

Application and Notification
Submitting a registration application does not guarantee you a spot in training. After the registration closing date, you will receive one of the following via email: a letter confirming your registration, a “wait list” letter, or an “event full” letter. This email will be sent only to the person who applied for the course.

These procedures are followed for all but the pre-service course, Child Welfare in North Carolina. For the pre-service, confirmation emails are sent to the supervisors of pre-service participants as soon as registrations are confirmed.

To Learn More
For more detailed guidelines about how to register for Division-sponsored child welfare courses offered through, go to

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We Need Your Help!

North Carolina’s child welfare training system is a success in so many ways. Yet there are areas in which we struggle. Here are two problems that affect you and your agency that you can help us solve. With your help, we can make our training system even better!

Problem: Some classes are cancelled unnecessarily.
Some cancellations are beyond anyone’s control (e.g., inclement weather). Other times a class is cancelled because people cancel their registrations at the last minute. How does this lead to cancelled classes? It’s about resources: we simply can’t afford to send two trainers halfway across the state to teach a class of five people.

How You Can Help: If you must cancel your registration, do it immediately! We understand that emergencies happen. Personnel and schedule changes occur. But when they do, please log in to and cancel your registration as soon as possible. If you need to cancel and there are less than 72 hours before the class begins, contact the course registrar directly. Canceling ASAP will make it possible for us to meet the training needs of staff from other agencies.

Problem: Classes aren’t full, even though there are people on the waiting list.
How is this even possible? Like many problems, the cause is poor communication.

How You Can Help: If someone registers but does not attend and does not e-mail the registrar, their supervisor receives a “No Show” letter notifying them of the fact. These letters can be a sign that resources were wasted and that someone on the wait list from your agency or another agency missed out on needed training. Don’t be a training “no-show”!

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NC to Build Resource Parent Learning Portal

On November 1, 2014, Kevin Kelley, Chief of Child Welfare Services within the NC Division of Social Services, sent a letter to the directors of North Carolina’s county departments of social services and private foster care/child-placing agencies informing them of the Division’s plans to begin building an online portal to support the ongoing learning of our state’s resource parents. In the box below is an excerpt from the letter.

The full letter can be found online here:

Excerpt from Announcement Letter

The development of a “Resource Parent Portal” has been identified as an opportunity to build capacity to support resource parents . . . . This portal is being envisioned to provide a platform in which trainings and other support information can be disseminated. The UNC-CH School of Social Work was selected as a partner due to their many years of experience in developing and operating the online training web-based system, . . . . The plan is to utilize an incremental approach to the development along with some long term visioning. . . .

NC FAST, an automated case management system, will soon replace our existing data/information systems which includes the tracking of all homes licensed by the Division. The development of the Resource Parent Portal will enhance and support the rollout of the Child Welfare NC FAST module.

Throughout the development of the Resource Parent Portal, the NCDSS will seek opportunities to update agency leaders. Input and feedback from agency staff will be sought and collected for addressing effective communications. Such opportunities will be identified by groups and affiliations such as the NC Association of County Directors of Social Services, Benchmarks, Western Child Welfare Partnership and others.

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Learn about NC Child Welfare Data Sources

Data is an essential tool for child welfare supervisors, program managers, and county DSS directors. They rely on it to help them understand and enhance the performance of their programs. But before they can make data-informed decisions, they must have the data itself.

This can be a barrier. Many people who are pros when it comes to interpreting policy and handling crises are less confident logging in to databases and running reports. The fact that some data sources are not exactly easy to use can also be a problem.

To remove this barrier, the NC Division of Social Services now offers Introduction to Child Welfare Data Sources.

The New Course
Developed by the Division in partnership with the Jordan Institute for Families at the UNC-CH School of Social Work, this short course has one goal: to teach people to effectively access and use the major child welfare data sources for North Carolina.

Data Sources begins with a 90-minute live online session that ensures participants have access to the sites taught in the course. This is followed by a day in the classroom led by Children’s Program Representatives from the Division.

The classroom day provides a detailed introduction to the Division’s Management Assistance Site, the Client Services Data Warehouse, Child Welfare Data Workbooks, and XPTR reports. It is filled with hands-on activities so learners leave the course knowing how to find and use the reports they are most likely to need.

Data Sources is open to all child welfare staff from county DSS agencies, and is especially recommended for child welfare supervisors, program managers, and directors.

What Participants Say
The response to the course, which debuted in 2014, has been quite positive and includes the following comments:

  • Great training! I just wish I had this training when I first became a supervisor.
  • Extremely relevant for supervisors.... You learn so much more than you expected from the title.
  • Having these resources and knowing how to use them effectively is valuable from many perspectives. [The trainers] were outstanding in sharing their expertise on this topic, especially explaining different scenarios.
  • This is a great training that should be required of all staff within a DSS agency who work with the agency’s child welfare data! It was very helpful for me!

To learn more about this course or to register, visit

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Upcoming Webinar about CFSR Round 3

On Friday, February 27, 2015 from 10:30–11:30 a.m. the NC Division of Social Services, in partnership with the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work, will offer “North Carolina and Round 3 of the CFSR: What Agencies Need to Know,” a free, 60-minute webinar for child welfare professionals from NC county DSS agencies.

North Carolina’s last Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) occurred in 2007. Many important changes have been made to the CFSR since then. This year we will be one of the first States to experience the new version of the CFSR.

  • How will “Round 3” differ from previous rounds?

  • How will county DSS agencies be affected?

  • How will North Carolina fare?

In this webinar, representatives from the NC Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Social Services will answer these and other burning questions about the upcoming federal review.

Target Audience: Directors and child welfare program administrators/managers from North Carolina county DSS agencies.

NCDSS presenters will be Kevin Kelley, Chief of Child Welfare Services; Terri Reichert, Child and Family Services Review Coordinator; and Rita Bland, REAP Coordinator.

To get credit through, you must preregister by Wednesday, February 18. You must preregister even if you are joining the webinar as part of a group. To preregister: (1) log in to your account* on, (2) select “Personalized Learning Portfolio (PLP),” (3) select the “Webinar” option, and (4) click the “apply for registration” button.

For more on how to apply to participate, e-mail Vicky Chang (

*If you don’t have an account, you can create one on

Key Learning Resources

Each year the NC Division of Social Services sponsors a variety of child welfare webinars. Watch recordings of past events and access related handouts and follow-up documents by visiting

Available webinar recordings include:

  • Documentation (Dec. 2014)
  • Quality Case Reviews (April 2014)
  • Engaging Families Affected by Domestic Violence (Feb. 2014)
  • ADHD: Medication and Treatment Considerations (Nov. 2013)
  • Hoarding (April 2013)
  • Monitoring and Oversight of Psychotropic Medications (Jan. 2013)
  • Adoption Review and Indexing (Dec. 2012)

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Counties Weigh in on Topics of Interest

In August 2014 the NC Division of Social Services asked child welfare professionals from North Carolina county departments of social services to complete a short online survey about the topics they would like to see addressed in future child welfare-focused webinars and publications.

The Survey
The survey asked just four questions. The first asked respondents to rate 20 possible educational topics on a scale of 1-10, where 1=”no interest” and 10=”highest possible interest.” The other three questions collected basic demographic information.

To obtain input from as many people as possible, the survey was sent to individuals from each of our state’s 100 county DSS agencies. The Division’s online learning portal for human services professionals,, was the primary source of the email addresses used.

More than 1,000 people—approximately a third of the county DSS child welfare professionals in the state—responded, including 27 agency directors, 58 program manager/administrators, 173 child welfare supervisors, and 595 front-line child welfare workers.

The Results
Respondents’ priorities differed somewhat based on their position within their agencies—for example, directors and program managers were far more interested in learning about the next round of the federal Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) than were front-line child welfare workers. But overall there was fairly strong agreement about which topics were most important to cover in future webinars and publications. The top 10 topics rated by survey respondents, listed in order of preference, are shown in the box below.

Survey Respondents’ Top 10 Topics

In order of preference, respondents’ top 10 topics were as follows:

  1. Secondary traumatic stress and child welfare professionals (responding to and preventing)

  2. Safety resources and kinship care: what is best practice?

  3. Emotional abuse (assessing and responding to)

  4. Reasonable efforts: what workers need to know

  5. Documentation in child welfare: effective practices for DSS agencies

  6. Child sex abuse interviews

  7. Social worker safety

  8. Collaborating with law enforcement

  9. Writing effective in-home and out-of-home services agreements

  10. Technology and its impact on child safety and well-being

The Division’s Response
The robust response to this survey provides useful information about the interests and needs of North Carolina’s county DSS child welfare professionals. Based on the results, in partnership with the Family and Children’s Resource Program at the UNC-CH School of Social Work, in 2014-15 the Division will offer webinars and publications on the topics shown below.

In addition, the Division plans to use the results of this survey to guide its future efforts to train and support North Carolina’s child welfare professionals.

Upcoming Division-Sponsored Webinars and Publications


  1. Documentation in Child Welfare. This was the top choice for supervisors and program managers/administrators and in the top 10 for line staff. Held: December 9, 2014. A record 773 people, representing 85 DSS agencies, registered for this event. View archive:

  2. The Child and Family Services Review (CFSR): A Webinar for Directors and Agency Leaders. The CFSR is a high priority for DSS directors and program managers, as well as Division staff. North Carolina will undergo its federal CFSR in 2015. To be offered: Feb. 27, 2015

  3. Secondary Traumatic Stress. This topic was survey respondents’ top priority. To be offered: Spring 2015

To learn about or register for upcoming webinars, visit Webinars are also announced via email on the cwlistserv. To subscribe, fill out the form found at

Children’s Services Practice Notes (

  1. Safety Resources and Kinship Care. Survey respondents’ 2nd highest priority topic. Appeared: Dec. 2014. Available:

  2. Child Sex Abuse Interviews (includes forensic interviews and interviewing young children). This was ranked 3rd by line staff and 6th by all survey respondents. To appear: March 2015

  3. Assessing and Responding to Emotional Abuse. This topic was a high priority for line staff. Also among the top 10 for supervisors, program managers, and NC Division of Social Services staff. To appear: June 2015

If you are not already a member, join the CSPNFP listserv to be notified via e-mail when new issues of Practice Notes appear online. To sign up, email with “subscribe” in the subject line.

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Using Co-Training to Enhance CFTs

Like all the NC Division of Social Services’ training partners, the Center for Family and Community Engagement at NC State University is serious about making a difference to families and children. That’s one of the reasons the Center uses a family /agency partnership approach to the training it provides about child and family team meetings (CFTs).

Co-Training with Family Partners
Kara Allen-Eckard, the Center’s training coordinator, explains that including family members and youth as true partners in the training process brings big benefits.

“DSS is a challenging system for families,” Allen-Eckard says. “Having family and youth deeply involved in developing and delivering training can shine a light on the subtle things that build engagement and help us deepen relationships with families.”

The Center makes a special effort to ensure family trainers co-teach Step by Step: An Introduction to Child and Family Teams. This mandatory training is where most people first learn about CFTs. According to Allen-Eckard, having family partners as co-trainers for this course gives learners a fuller perspective and helps them connect with the material on a personal level.

“A trainer with an agency background can say 50 times that it is important to ask people who their support person is,” Allen-Eckard says. “But hearing from a youth about the difference that question made for them hits home. From then on people remember that and change their practice.”

Making an Impact
The Center uses post-event surveys to measure the impact of its training. A month after training, participants are asked to answer five simple questions about how their practice has changed. Results have been quite positive.

For example, between July 2013 and June 2014, 366 post-event surveys were sent to everyone who attended an in-person CFT course co-trained by a family partner. Of the 166 people who responded, 92% said they had used what they learned in the training on the job. Ninety-one percent said changes they made after attending the training had led to improvements in their relationships with families, and 89% said they made changes after the training that made their CFTs more successful.

The impact of the Center’s CFT courses is also reflected in participant comments about the training, such as:

  • “I am much more aware of [the family’s] perspective of the situation, and try to moderate my behaviors to ensure families feel respected and appreciated in the child welfare process.”
  • “[Our] CFT meetings are now being held and planning and decision making is now a group effort instead of being dictated by DSS.”

To learn about or register for courses on CFTs, log in to

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“Staying Power!” Training Can Help Supervisors Improve Workplace Climate

Recent findings show that Staying Power—a course for child welfare supervisors developed by the UNC-CH School of Social Work—really can make a difference for learners and their agencies.

Staying Power! A Supervisor’s Guide to Coaching and Developing Child Welfare Staff is a three-day, classroom-based course that teaches supervisors specific, research-based tools for enhancing staff motivation and effectiveness. Tools taught in the course include solution-focused and coaching techniques for supporting staff, tips for recognizing and responding to signs of worker disengagement and burnout, and techniques for helping staff cope with the trauma inherent in child welfare work.

“[I now have] a better understanding as to the needs of my workers. . . . I have been told they feel like I listen to them and I understand their needs. I’m glad I attended this training.”
Staying Power participant

The Evaluation
To assess Staying Power’s effectiveness, in 2012-2013 the School of Social Work gathered information from supervisors enrolled in Staying Power, as well as from staff they supervised. Fifty supervisors and 194 child welfare workers participated in the study, which drew from four sources: (1) a satisfaction survey administered after training; (2) a knowledge assessment administered before and after training; (3) surveys of supervisors 3 and 6 months after training; and (4) surveys of workers supervised by Staying Power participants, administered soon after the course and again 6 months later.

The study found Staying Power positively impacted supervisors and their workers. Supervisors overwhelmingly reported they were glad they attended the course, gained new knowledge, and applied what they learned.

This benefitted agencies. After supervisors attended Staying Power, workers experienced at least a 10% increase in satisfaction with the climate of their workplace. Unhappy workers saw even greater increases. This suggests Staying Power teaches supervisors effective skills and knowledge that help them raise workers’ overall satisfaction.

Click here to read the full report on the Staying Power evaluation. To learn more about the course or to register, log in to your account on

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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 ~