LTG, through the support of Casey Family Programs, is assisting the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) in strengthening and customizing staff development and training for child welfare managers from multiple levels. DCS has recently experienced a rapid and extensive transformation to a new, independent agency. As part of this transformation, DCS has trained over 750 new front-line staff and 150 new supervisors in child welfare front-line practice and supervision.
In June 2008, LTG partners conducted focus groups and interviews with DCS supervisors, trainers, local office directors, and regional directors from throughout Indiana. Additionally, LTG administered a questionnaire on skills and leadership issues that had been identified by senior staff. From this review, LTG assessed the strengths and limitations of current training curricula, and current staff development needs within DCS.
From this comprehensive assessment, LTG identified additional training programs or sessions most suited for the needs, interests, and skill sets of new and experienced supervisors and of local office directors. These recommendations were in the following areas:
LTG will assist DCS in enhancing existing training curricula and developing new curricula to address these areas.
In conducting this assessment, LTG discovered that several counties in Indiana were currently doing exemplary work and could serve as models for other areas. Later this fall, LTG will interview the leadership in these counties and identify the best practices being used in these locales. LTG will then develop a customized curriculum integrating these best practices with its core Executive Briefing Curriculum, a leadership development program for upper level managers and directors.
LTG's work with Indiana Department of Child Services exemplifies its commitment to working from the "ground up" by truly listening to stakeholders and developing customized programs that are inspired by their unique strengths, potentials, and challenges.
Following an extensive assessment of its strengths and needs, LTG has begun its leadership training for Indiana's Department of Child Services (DCS), the agency that oversees the state's child welfare system.
Over the past two years, DCS has been transitioning from a county-based child welfare system to a state-run system. On January 1, 2009 the state formally put into effect its state-run system. On January 8 and 9, LTG Partner Steve Burghardt and LTG Master Trainers Scott Klein and Bill McKeithan met with 120 Local Office Directors (LODs) and Regional Managers from DCS on the leadership challenges they face at this time of transition. Participants responded very positively to this leadership retreat and look forward to further leadership training from LTG starting this Spring.
Scott Klein, the retreat's primary facilitator, led this group powerfully in considering ways to effectively handle change at times of organizational transition. Working over two days, he masterfully engaged a group of mid-level leaders in how to respond to change in times of transition so that their teams respond to the changes demanded of them in the coming year. Bill McKeithan offered guidance on managing different styles of communication and problem solving, using humor, his own leadership story, and his experience in child welfare to get and keep their attention.
Finally, one of the primary needs identified during LTG's initial assessment was the challenge of self-care as a leader. To this end, Steve Burghardt led a workshop on one of the key principles from his and Willie Tolliver's latest book Stories of Transformative Leadership in Human Services: Why the Glass is Always Full — "If the work is sacred, then so are you."
Mary Lippold, Deputy Commissioner for Staff Development at DCS, reported that participants responded "very positively" to their experiences at this leadership retreat. As a result, DCS has asked LTG to provide extensive leadership training to Local Office Directors customized to their unique strengths and challenges. LTG will begin these trainings this Spring. LTG's work with DCS has been funded through Casey Family Programs.
Through the support of Casey Family Programs (CFP), LTG has begun an extensive statewide leadership training program with Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) and their Local Office Directors (LODs) who serve as the front-line managers in Indiana child welfare.
Indiana child welfare reform has been well underway for four years, with Director and former Family Court Judge James Payne leading a massive overhaul of Indiana's child welfare system. Seeing that training for staff was fundamental to his reform efforts, he appointed MB Lippold to head up the professional development of his staff. Ms. Lippold has worked closely with both CFP's Barry Salovitz and Page Walley and LTG's Steve Burghardt, Scott Klein, and Gay Watson to ensure premium leadership and other skills-based training at every level of their child welfare system.
LTG trainers have been struck by the high level of innovation and programmatic leadership across the state by LODs as the training has gotten underway. For example, directors have used the DISC Communication Profiles to chart each local office team's strengths and challenges in their approach to improving key practice indicators related to system-wide outcome improvement. A striking example of the thoroughness and creativity of Indiana child welfare staff has been the Miami County local office team, under the leadership of Kay McInnis, where they have detailed the specific activities associated with "increased use of relative care" and "reduced length of stay" indicators. McInnis and her team have gone on to pinpoint how each DISC Profile could improve or hinder each of those activities. The result has been that the team members are sharing their Profile skill sets in ways that over time are expected to lead to lasting improvement in practice improvement.
Scott Klein and Gay Watson have noted that many other Indiana DCS teams show a similar level of creativity, expanding skill sets to parent leaders, collaborating across regions to aid other teams, and in general showing a highly professionalized and engaged approach to all they are learning. "Indiana DCS is made up of special people at every level," Klein commented. Both he and Watson see Indiana DCS as a national leader in child welfare reform.
With the recent completion of the well-received, four-part "Leadership From Within" training series created for Local Office Directors (LODs) in Indiana's Department of Child Services (DCS), LTG's efforts turned to working with the DCS Staff Development Unit to plan for the ongoing delivery of the training series. To this end, LTG Master Trainer Scott Klein facilitated a two-day Train-the-Trainer workshop.
The highly interactive sessions gave DCS facilitators an opportunity to practice delivering the series' uniquely powerful curriculum, while providing a forum to brainstorm innovative ways in which the "next generation" of the program could be delivered. Participants also discussed strategies to stimulate ongoing idea sharing and learning among the program's recent graduates.
"Indiana DCS is fortunate to have a strong bench of talented facilitators who are committed to supporting both current and new LODs in expanding their leadership capabilities, that will in turn drive results within Key Practice Indicators," Klein noted.
The facilitators, who come from both the Regional Manager and Staff Development ranks, were already familiar with the curriculum developed by LTG. Using this curriculum, they led activities and discussions at distance learning sites across Indiana during the delivery of the first LOD training series. "It was rewarding to 'turn over the baton' of the Leadership from Within Series to such capable and passionate internal facilitators at DCS," Klein commented. "It's reassuring to know future program participants will benefit from a highly targeted curriculum delivered by extraordinarily committed people," said Klein.
Both LTG Partner, Steve Burghardt, and Scott Klein noted the LODs' continued high level of engagement with the work of transformational leadership. The LODs, with the support of Mary Lippold - Deputy Director of Staff Development, and DCS Regional Managers and Training Facilitators, will help Indiana's Department of Child Services position itself as a national leader of progressive, outcome-oriented child welfare reform now and well into the future.