Case Study

Tennessee's Department of Children's Services (DCS)

Tennessee's Department of Children's Services
Casey Family Programs

Stage 1

Working with Fred Simmens of Casey Family Programs (CFP) and the Philadelphia-based Center for Applied Research (CFAR), LTG has begun an innovative, project-based leadership program with Tennessee's Department of Children's Services (DCS).

LTG has been working with DCS Commissioner Viola Miller and Deputy Commissioner Bonnie Hommrich and their team over the past several months to ensure that we develop an innovative and textured program for this large and varied state. A thorough needs assessment, followed by an exciting Open Space session held in Nashville, revealed both passion and a desire to expand leadership skills so that the children of Tennessee would benefit.

Dr. Clarice Bailey, who helped facilitate the Open Space with LTG partner Steve Burghardt and Kami Franklin, noted the high degree of collaboration between Human Resource staff and child welfare program leaders. "People in Tennessee show both motivation and engagement for working together. That's a sign of a collaborative culture."

A highlight of Tennessee's previous efforts is the statewide implementation of the DISC communications profile for all staff. Led by Deputy Commissioner Tom Riche and Director of Professional Development, Donna X. Johnson, over 700 staff now know where they are "D's, I's, S's, or C's." Such preparation has allowed LTG to work with Tennessee to deepen the use of this tool both with their teams and in family-to-family meetings that are at the core of their practice.

Likewise, work with CFAR has focused on their efforts toward project development through action learning and how the LTG training's skill set can be applied through these "on-the-ground" projects. Projects that focus on outcome-related measures of importance for the overall reduction of the numbers in child welfare — a critical result sought by CFP — are being developed over the coming months by action learning teams. Such teams, led by LTG training participants, are to become incubators of our leadership skill set and CFAR coaching. The teams will be reporting later this year on the results they expect to create. Stay tuned!

Nashville Open Space Session

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Stage 2

Steve Burghardt and Scott Klein met in late September with Tennessee child welfare leaders from the Department of Children's Services (DCS) and their training partner, Tennessee Collaborative for Child Welfare (TCCW). Working closely with TCCW Executive Director Chansthusus and DCS Deputy Commissioner Thomas Riche and their teams, the collaborative group crafted an exciting mix of blended learning for roll-out across the state. Supported by the thoughtful presence of Casey Family Programs' consultant Fred Simmens, the day was a mix of presentations on TCCW's exciting developments in e-learning and LTG's focused review of how to streamline our leadership training. Given the size of the state, where travel from East to West can be an all-day affair by car and costly by plane, the group arrived at a combined a mix of electronic learning, including interactive activities and "Go-To meeting" simulations, with what the group agreed were must-have on-site LTG presentations.

DCS and TCCW have already developed some exciting electronic simulations that child welfare staff can already utilize. By combining these resources with LTG's leadership framework, we will be developing a six-session leadership model that emphasizes systems thinking, leadership from within, improved time management, and self-care ("If the Work Is Sacred, Then So Are You").

The meeting ended with a brief visit from DCS Commissioner Viola Miller, who saw the upcoming training as central to the work ahead with their supervisors, as Tennessee has successfully made strides in ending the consent decree under which the department has been under for the last three years.

Scott Klein will also be using this training as a "Train the Trainer" curriculum with identified DCS and TCCW staff so that as the work evolves it can be fully supported by Tennessee staff. LTG is excited to be a part of this imaginative and creative approach to training.

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