Child Welfare and Family Support

Statewide Training

Vision for the Next Five Years
1999 – 2004

January 1999

Developed by the Child Welfare and Family Support Statewide Training Partnership
Advisory Committee


Executive Summary

The training of North Carolina’s child welfare social workers is receiving more attention now than ever before. Media coverage of individual cases has raised the profile of child welfare in the eye of the public. As a result there is a growing understanding among the general population of what child welfare social work is, and why it is important that it be done well. To the public and to social work professionals themselves, the connection between job performance and education is clear.

By passing legislation mandating preservice and in-service training for all child welfare staff in 1997, North Carolina’s legislators made it known that they make this connection as well (G.S. 131D-10.6A). Thanks to this unprecedented attention and support, North Carolina has begun to establish a Children’s Services Statewide Training Partnership—a systematic, responsive program that will improve the training of its child welfare workers.

This system is sorely needed. As of this writing, many of our child welfare workers lack the formal education necessary to do their jobs well—a recent workforce study found that 64 percent have neither a BSW or MSW degree. In addition, much of the training previously available to them has not been as focused as it might be on preparing them to do their jobs. Neither has this training ensured that social workers apply the things they learn in training once they return to their work with families. In short, North Carolina’s needs a better child welfare training system, one that guarantees training is competency-based, job-relevant, accessible, affordable, consistent, timely, and thorough.

This document outlines our five year vision for creating just such a training system. In the following pages you will find an explanation of the purpose, outcomes, and structure of the Children’s Services Statewide Training Partnership and an explanation of the competency-based approach that is its foundation. After summarizing the short history of child welfare training in North Carolina and what has been achieved in the past year, we lay out nine goals we hope to achieve between now and the year 2004.

There are significant barriers to reaching these goals, but if we do, the payoff for North Carolina will be tremendous. If we can create a comprehensive, accountable, adaptable system for educating our child welfare workforce, our state will have a child welfare system capable of helping families and children achieve safe, nurturing, permanent homes far into the new millenium.


—Statewide Training Advisory Committee

The Statewide Training Advisory Committee is a body comprised of representatives from all parts of the child welfare system and from all areas of the state. The representative planning and advice-giving body for the training system, the committee helps ensure the ongoing effectiveness and quality of this training program.


1998 Advisory Committee

  1. Becky Alexander, Social Worker, Cabarrus County Department of Social Services
  2. Nan Beeler, Consultant, Institute for Human Services, Columbus, Ohio
  3. Stoney Blevins, Children’s Program Representative, DHHS South Central Regional Office
  4. Cindy Blizewski, Trainer, Mecklenburg County Youth and Family Services
  5. Kathy Boyd, Executive Director, NASW-NC
  6. Rebecca Brigham, Team Leader, Children’s Services Staff Development,
    N.C. Division of Social Services
  7. Kent Campbell, Local Support Manager, DHHS Western Regional Office
  8. Austin Connors, Executive Director, N.C. Association of Residential
    Child Care and Family Services
  9. Lane Cooke, Program Coordinator, N.C. Family and Children’s Resource Program,
    UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work
  10. Mel Crocker, Manager, Local Personnel Services, Division of Human Resources
  11. Evelyn Dawson, Director, Halifax County Department of Social Services
  12. Beth Duncan, Director, Moore County Department of Social Services
  13. Barbara Gomez, Program Consultant, N.C. Division of Social Services
  14. Peggy Graham, Associate Director of Continuing Education, N.C. Community Colleges
  15. Nicki Griffin, Program Manager, Franklin County Department of Social Services
  16. William Griffin, Executive Director, Independent Living Resources
  17. Elizabeth Grimes, Region IV Trainer, DHHS Eastern Regional Office
  18. Susan Kelley, Administrative Assistant, N.C. Division of Social Services
  19. Wayne Moore, Social Work Program, N.C. A & T State University
  20. Laura O’Neal, Assistant Director, Nash County Department of Social Services
  21. Joan Pennell, Social Work Program, N.C. State University
  22. Connie Polk, Regional Training Coordinator, N.C. Division of Social Services
  23. Myra Powell, Project Development, East Carolina University School of Social Work
  24. Jerry Rhodes, Director, Washington County Department of Social Services
  25. Laura Rosenfeld Jefferson, Social Worker, Orange County Department of Social Services
  26. Alice Stallings, Supervisor, Pasquotank County Department of Social Services
  27. Karen Stallings, Associate Director for Program Activities, N.C. AHEC Program, UNC-CH
  28. Sonya Toman, Program Manager, Cumberland County Department of Social Services
  29. Mary Urzi, Staff Development Director, Wake County Human Services
  30. John Wasson, Director, Cleveland County Department of Social Services
  31. Linda Williams, Director of Field Education, Social Work Program, N.C. State University

1. The Statewide Training Partnership


The Children’s Services Statewide Training Partnership seeks to establish a systematic, responsive training program so professionals and community members will help families and children achieve safety and timely permanence. To support his goal, we seek the following outcomes:

  1. Service providers who demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary to help families and children achieve safety and timely permanence.
  2. Service supervisors and managers who demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary to help service providers achieve successful outcomes.
  3. Training programs and other learning resources that are open and accessible to community agencies and staff members.


  • To develop, implement, and evaluate a responsive, accessible training and educational system.
  • To achieve a competent child welfare work force committed to ensuring safe, permanent, nurturing families for children at risk of abuse, neglect or dependency.

Characteristics of the Training Offered by the Partnership

In the next five years, the Partnership will offer training that is

1. Focused on Family Outcomes. The Partnership will focus on achieving positive outcomes for families and children. In keeping with this, it will encourage and support agencies and organizations as they identify their learning needs, use and reinforce learning in the practice setting, monitor outcomes for families, and measure and reward improved social work practice.

2. Comprehensive. The Partnership’s training will encompass learning experiences ranging from introductory courses to specialized material focused on specific functions, practice skills, and experience levels. This training will reach service providers and managers in county departments of social services as well as other related community agencies.

3. Competency-based. Our competency-based training program will be founded on a comprehensive list of the knowledge and skills child welfare supervisors and workers need to do their jobs. This list will "drive" the training system—it will be used to assess training needs and guide the development of all training courses.

4. Collaborative. As the name suggests, the Statewide Training Partnership will be a collaborative endeavor between the Division, County Departments of Social Services and other interested parties. Collaboration is especially essential in the planning and development of the training system, assessing staff training needs and in identifying and developing child welfare staff into trainers. Teamwork among all human services providers and managers is critical if we are to continue achieving positive outcomes for families.


The Child Welfare and Family Support Statewide Training Partnership will be managed by the Child Welfare and Family Support Section of the N.C. Division of Social Services. As manager of this partnership, the Division will establish an administrative structure that carries out the purpose of the system, provide a staff person who will bear day-to-day management responsibility, and assess the Partnership's progress toward the outcomes mentioned above.

Four Regional Training Sites

Currently, four regional training centers (Asheville, Charlotte, Greensboro, Kinston) have been developed and are managed by the N.C. Division of Social Services. The primary responsibility of the regional centers will be to deliver and manage the required pre-service and in-service training on an on-going basis. The regional centers will also assume responsibility for providing training to community agencies and their staff. Each site will have two classrooms and three offices. Two trainers and a clerical support person operate each site. These staff members are currently supervised by a training coordinator based in the Division’s Raleigh office. It is anticipated that as the training system grows, additional training centers and staff will be needed.

We strongly believe that state staff must be responsible for teaching county staff Child Welfare and Family Support law, policy, and foundation practice skills. This responsibility should not be contracted to an outside source. Standardized foundation training provided by the state must be ensured for all workers. It is planned that University and other trainers will be used to implement specialized and advanced practice training.

Central Office Children’s Services Trainers

The existing Child Welfare and Family Support state trainers will continue to serve four primary purposes:

  • Providing central management to the Child Welfare and Family Support Statewide Training Partnership and the Regional Training Centers.
  • Continue implementing the foster and adoptive parent training program (MAPP/GPS)
  • Provide specialized training in areas directly related to abuse and neglect: substance abuse, domestic violence, and sexual abuse
  • Provide "back-up" to on-going training in regional training centers
  • Provide training on new Child Welfare and Family Support initiatives and programs

Children’s Services Training Advisory Committee

An advisory committee comprised of state, regional, and county staff and consortium members will advise the Children’s Services Section. The committee will advise the Section regarding the effectiveness and quality of the training program, paying special attention to strategic planning, operational planning, and program evaluation. A strong partnership that promotes ongoing and collaborative planning and evaluation is needed.

2. Role of University, Community College,
and Private Partners

University, community college, and private partnerships are critical to the overall success of the training system described above. Collaboration with these partners will be needed to develop curricula, deliver advanced practice training, provide current research for curricula, conduct evaluation, and provide publication services.

It is expected that the entire DSS work force of 2,500 will need to participate in advanced skill practice training each year. Examples of training topics include interviewing skills, concurrent planning, and providing services to adolescents. Universities, community colleges, and other private providers will also help provide training to community agencies and their staff. In addition, the UNC system will be engaged to teach basic child welfare competencies as a part of its BSW and MSW programs. Staff obtaining course credit for completion of mandatory courses will also be explored.

In order to accomplish these goals, Federal IV-E funds for training will be thoroughly utilized. Experts in the field of IV-E funding, utilizing university match (cost-share and indirect costs) will be sought out so that we can take full advantage of university resources.

3. What Is Competency-Based Training?

The N.C. Division of Social Services, Children’s Services Statewide Training Partnership provides competency-based training. This means that every aspect of training is founded on a comprehensive list of the knowledge and skills child welfare supervisors and workers need to do their jobs. Using this list as a cornerstone helps us ensure that the training workers receive is essential to their job performance.

The essential elements of a comprehensive, competency-based in-service training system include:

Use of a "Universe of Casework Competencies"

North Carolina has adopted the State of Ohio’s comprehensive listing of all the knowledge and skills required for child welfare social workers, supervisors and directors; this list "drives" the competency-based training system. In the future, this list of competencies is the criteria that will be used to assess individual training needs, and will also guide the development of all training courses and curriculum content.

Use of an Individual Training Needs Assessment Instrument

Ohio uses an Individual Training Needs Assessment Instrument to identify each worker’s training needs. Completed jointly by the worker and supervisor, the training needs assessment should be performed each year and will provide regional training centers with the information they need to develop training that meets each worker’s highest priority training needs. North Carolina plans to utilize such an instrument in the coming years.

Development of Competent Trainers

All of our trainers are carefully screened and trained. They must have the appropriate course content knowledge, the necessary adult training skills, and the ability to promote culturally competent practice. Each training program is evaluated, and trainers must maintain a minimum average performance score to continue training in the program. All pre-service and foundation level trainers must have extensive field experience in child welfare.

In the future, it will be the training system’s responsibility to work with county departments of social services, universities and other training providers to identify and develop new trainers.

Development of Job-Related Training Content

The courses provided by the N.C. Child Welfare and Family Support Statewide Training Partnership reflect our commitment to the effective and efficient use of limited training resources. These course content areas represent training caseworkers need to do their jobs; they include no training that is not essential to job performance. Such systemic relevance is assured by using our "universe of competencies" as the guide to curriculum development.

All curricula are developed to promote culturally competent practice. Our pre-service and foundation level curriculum is standardized so that new workers throughout North Carolina receive consistent foundation-level training.

A Statewide System for the Delivery of Training

The Children’s Services regional training centers will provide training to meet the needs of each region's caseworkers. In the future, the training will be developed and delivered based upon data gathered from ongoing training needs assessment of workers in each region. Training Calendars publicize training activities.

Computerized System for Administration, Monitoring, and Quality Control

North Carolina uses a computerized program for the administration and tracking of our training programs. The system maintains training records for all caseworkers and generates all reports necessary for training program administration and monitoring. This helps to assure accountability and the continuing high quality of training.


4. Training for North Carolina’s Child Welfare Services Staff & Foster Parents: A Short History

The N.C. Division of Social Services began providing training to county departments of social services’ children’s protective services (CPS) social workers in 1985 through a federal child abuse and neglect grant. Effective FY 1987–88, the training model that was developed through the federal grant was integrated into the regular state budget through a state appropriation specifically designated for CPS training. This funding created two consultant/trainer positions and one clerical position. Over the next six years, the training that was developed and provided to CPS social workers was related to CPS policy and practice, legal aspects of child protective services, and medical aspects of child maltreatment.

In 1991, this training was made mandatory by Governor James G. Martin, Executive Order 142, "Children's Protective Services." In order to provide this training, the Division received funding for three additional training positions and an additional clerical position. In 1993, the Division added the requirement that staff attend risk assessment training and, in 1997, that they attend "Child Development" and "The Effects of Separation and Loss on Attachment."

In 1995, the General Assembly passed 131D-10.6A. This law required that foster care and adoption social workers receive 84 hours of pre-service training and 18 additional hours of in-service training annually thereafter. It also required that foster parents receive 30 hours of training prior to licensure and 10 hours of in-service training annually thereafter. In order to implement this law, two additional trainer positions were added, one in foster care and one in adoption. These two trainers have focused on ensuring that foster and adoptive parents receive the required training. A contract with the N.C. Family and Children’s Resource Program, part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work, was initiated to provide mandatory training to foster care and adoption social workers.

In March 1997, the N.C. Division of Social Services Children’s Services Section reorganized to create the Staff Development Team. Comprised of six consultant trainers, two clerical support staff, and one manager, this team is responsible for developing and implementing an integrated, competency-based program of training. Every year it develops a course schedule to provide county DSS staff with the required pre-service and in-service courses.

In August 1997, the General Assembly passed a new law that makes pre-service (prior to direct client contact) and in-service training for child welfare services staff and supervisors mandatory. The law states:

"(d.) Notwithstanding G.S. 1310-13ID-10.6A, the Division of Social Services shall establish training requirements for child welfare services staff initially hired on and after January 1, 1998. The minimum training requirements established by the Division shall be as follows:

1) Child welfare services workers must complete a minimum of 72 hours of pre-service training before assuming direct client contact responsibilities;

2) Child protective services workers must complete a minimum of 18 hours of additional training that the Division determines is necessary to adequately meet training needs;

3) Foster care and adoption social workers must complete a minimum of 39 hours of additional training that the Division determines is necessary to adequately meet training needs;

4) Child welfare services supervisors must complete a minimum of 72 hours of pre-service training before assuming supervisory responsibilities and a minimum of 54 hours of additional training that the Division determines is necessary to adequately meet training needs; and

5) Child welfare services staff must complete 24 hours of continuing education annually thereafter. The N.C. Division of Social Services shall ensure that training opportunities are available for county departments of social and consolidated human services agencies to meet the training requirements of this subsection."

In order to implement this law, four Children’s Services regional training centers were established in 1998 in partnership with community colleges: Asheville/Buncombe Technical College in Asheville, Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, Guilford Technical Community College in Greensboro, and Lenoir Community College in Kinston. Training and clerical staff have been employed to provide training in these centers.

Today the Child Welfare and Family Support Staff Development Team and its university and private training partners continues to provide essential training to North Carolina's child welfare workers. In doing so, it is guided not only by legal mandate, but by desire to develop and support a competent child welfare work force committed to ensuring permanent, safe, nurturing families for children at risk of abuse, neglect, or dependency.

5. Children’s Services Statewide Training Partnership: Key Stakeholders

  • N.C. Division of Social Services
  • N.C. Association of Directors of County Departments of Social Services
  • Legislators
  • County department of social services directors, administrators and supervisors
  • County social workers
  • Private child caring institutions, group homes and child placing agencies
  • Families and children
  • Community college and university faculty
  • Judicial system
  • Boards of directors of county departments of social services
  • Community agencies with whom county departments of social services work (medical, mental health, etc.)
  • Private providers of training (contract vendors)
  • Other training systems (e.g., AHEC)
  • Members of the general public

Goals of the Statewide Training Partnership


To formalize an ongoing process for reviewing and adopting child welfare competencies that are comprehensive, relevant, and responsive to the changing child welfare system in North Carolina.


The "universe of competencies" is a compilation of all the knowledge and skills potentially needed by trainees in a target group to perform their assigned job tasks. The universe of competencies "drives" a competency-based in-service training system. The competencies are the criteria against which individual training needs are measured; they also determine the content of all training curricula. Trainers in the system are certified to teach only in those competency areas in which they have a high level of expertise and proficiency.

Current State

  • North Carolina has begun to review and utilize the Institute of Human Services in Ohio’s list of competencies.


  • North Carolina will begin with the use of Ohio’s competencies and with North Carolina’s recently developed supervisory competencies.
  • North Carolina needs an integrated, responsive system of training that is proactive and supports and builds on social workers’ knowledge, skills, and values.
  • A comprehensive list of competencies will help ensure that the child welfare system can work effectively with community partners to ensure that individuals, families, and communities are served.

Driving Forces

  • We have political support for ensuring child welfare workers and supervisors have the skills and knowledge they need to do their jobs well. There is a strong desire for competent state and local child welfare staff.
  • There is general consensus that a competency-based system is needed.

Restraining Forces

  • Reviewing competencies can be a tedious process.
  • There is currently no process for the review of competencies.
  • There is a lack of validated research on the required competencies for child welfare workers and supervisors. However, their usefulness and accuracy has been validated by approximately 25 states, provinces and large county child welfare systems.


  • North Carolina will have a formalized, ongoing, adequately supported process for review and revision of child welfare competencies.

Action Steps

  • Identify who needs to participate in the review and revision of the competencies.
  • Develop the process for the review and revision.
  • Determine the roles of the participants and how they will work together.
  • Specify time frames.
  • Determine who has responsibility for ensuring that the review is completed and is used.
  • Assure that the competencies will drive curriculum development.


To provide standardized pre-service and foundation level training for all new child welfare services employees, and to provide specialized and advanced practice in-service training to child welfare services employees and other community professionals.


Pre-service and foundation level training consists of training in those competencies considered to be fundamental and essential for all trainees in a targeted trainee group. By mandating that all staff attend pre-service and foundation training early in their employment, the training system helps assure a consistent and uniform standard of practice in the system.

Current state

  • We are still recovering from a "backlog" of training.
  • Training does not occur often enough, and there are not enough sites or training slots.
  • Traditional training methods are most frequently being used (training technology is lacking).
  • Training is not always delivered by experts in the field.
  • Training is not individualized (there is a need for an individualized training competency assessment).


  • We currently have the "ear" of the legislature and other politicians with regard to child welfare issues.
  • Continued political interest in children’s services may not always be a priority.
  • Few state or local child welfare staff have formal social work training (64% do not have a BSW or MSW degree).
  • Technology can remove barriers.
  • Funding is uncertain.
  • There is a misconception that training is a "fix-all."
  • Training must be relevant to the learner’s job.

Driving Forces

  • We current have the "buy in" of key stakeholders (the public, legislators, boards of directors, and directors of county departments of social services, supervisors, and staff).
  • We are "on a roll"—there is momentum behind our efforts.
  • The general public identifies training as a key variable in successful service delivery.

Restraining Forces

  • Currently we do not have adequate funding to fully operate a competency-based training system. We generally rely on traditional training methods.


  • To develop, implement, and evaluate standardized pre-service and foundation level curricula for child welfare workers, supervisors, managers and directors.
  • In-service training will be relevant, accessible and competency based (ITCA).

Action steps

  • Implement the Individualized Training Competency Assessment (ITCA).
  • Ensure that the training database is fully operational and meets the needs of the counties and the state.
  • Effectively match trainers with training needs.
  • Develop curricula.
  • Identify trainers to teach each of the courses.
  • Deliver training.
  • Evaluate the learning, based on competencies.
  • Ensure that the training is convenient, accessible, affordable, consistent, timely and thorough.
  • Train agency supervisors regarding their role and responsibility to assist their staff to transfer new knowledge and skills to the job.
  • Track attendance by staff via computer, permanent training records must be kept for all employees.


To implement and utilize the Individualized Training Competency Assessment (ITCA) state wide with a computerized tracking system.


The Individual Training Competency Assessment (ITCA) process determines the high priority needs for every staff person in the system. Each ITCA instrument contains the standardized universe of competencies for that target group. The ITCA weighs the relative importance of two variables: the importance of each competency to the individual worker’s job and the worker’s current level of ability. The highest priority training need is a competency that is very important to the worker’s job and in which the worker has little knowledge or skill.

The staff member and his or her supervisor complete the ITCA at least annually. The supervisor uses the ITCA data to develop the individual training plan for the worker. Supervisors send training needs data to the regional training centers, where the data is entered into the computerized tracking system. Regional training center staff use compiled training needs data to plan appropriate training programs for the region.

Central Management uses the compiled training needs data from throughout the system to identify current high priority competencies to drive trainer and curriculum development. ITCA data must be updated continuously to accurately reflect changes in training needs.

Current state

  • There is no Individualized Training Competency Assessment being used.
  • The training system does not currently have the capacity to deliver comprehensive training in the specialized and advanced practice areas.


  • We will need "buy in" from supervisors, front-line workers, and directors.
  • We need a process to provide feedback on trainee strengths and needs to supervisors and directors.
  • The ITCA is a proven and effective system.
  • We will need a strategic effort to implement this with all stakeholders (analytical and personal approach).
  • Thoroughly developing the structure and process of the ITCA must precede implementation.
  • We need funding to develop and support the automated system.
  • The timing to introduce the ITCA is important. We will need to have the capacity to deliver all high priority training needs prior to implementing the ITCA.

Driving Forces

  • The ITCA will give us the capacity to assess training needs individually, regionally, and statewide.
  • Needs assessment will save time and money
  • ITCA will increase accountability for training system.

Restraining Forces

  • Time for all persons involved.
  • Attitude toward change (skepticism).
  • Not enough financial resources.
  • Fear that ITCA data will used to evaluate agencies during biennial and child fatality reviews.
  • Fear that agencies will use ITCA data as a means of negatively evaluating an individual on her or her work performance evaluations.
  • In the past, ITCA pilot counties did not receive feedback from completed work


  • To purchase or develop the necessary automation software and ensure compatibility with the county system.
  • To market and engage management staff so that they understand the importance and utility of the ITCA system.
  • To engage county staff in the development and piloting of the ITCA in diverse, geographical, and cultural areas.
  • To set up an evaluation and monitoring system for the implementation of the ITCA.
  • To ensure security of the data collected.
  • To ensure the training system is responsive to data that is learned regarding training needs.

Action steps

  • Assess compatibility and find moneys to purchase or develop automated system/software.
  • Identify data entry staff regionally and statewide.
  • Identify financial and human resources.
  • Design marketing plan and materials and identify training teams.
  • Design action plan for implementation that includes feedback from counties.
  • Identify proactive counties.
  • Offer incentives to pilot counties to send their staff to training.
  • Obtain data from pilot counties (provide feedback to pilot counties).
  • Make modifications.
  • Market ITCA to counties.
  • Implement ITCA statewide.
  • Collect data.
  • Secure data.
  • Disseminate data.
  • Educate supervisors so that they are able to effectively measure competencies (performance appraisals should also be objective and reflect the competencies).


To develop a pool of competent trainers (both NCDSS staff and contract) to meet the changing needs of North Carolina’s child welfare system.


Trainers in a competency-based training system must have well developed training skills for use with adult learners; a thorough knowledge and skill in the topics they are to teach, and understanding of the values, standards, and operations of state-of-the-art child welfare practice.

Trainers for a competency-based system are thoroughly screened, evaluated, and ultimately certified to teach only in those competency areas in which they demonstrate a high level of proficiency. They are trained in adult learning methodology and in the use of standardized curricula. They are also trained regarding their role in promoting transfer of training from the workshop to the job setting.

All trainers are evaluated each time they conduct a session. If the trainer fails to perform to the system’s standard, staff will provide the necessary technical assistance to help the trainer improve performance. Trainers must meet system standards in order to be allowed to train. This function assures training remains of the highest quality.

Current state

  • No fully developed or identified pool of trainers for statewide system.
  • No coordinated evaluation of trainers.
  • No statewide system to prepare or develop new trainers.
  • We have begun formation of regional centers and recruitment of highly qualified staff as trainers.
  • Currently lots of trainers who are potential resources for the state "trainer pool."
  • We have experienced Central Office and contract trainers currently providing training.


  • It is the training system’s responsibility to develop a pool of trainers over time.
  • There is and will continue to be a single focal point (Central Management Organization, located in the N.C. Division of Social Services) to coordinate the training system.
  • The training system will continue to be a priority for Children’s Services.

Driving Forces

  • There is a public and political awareness of the need for competent child welfare services staff.
  • Legislation mandates training.

Restraining Forces

  • There are competing needs for funding.
  • We have a history of many "fiefdoms" and a limited history of regionalized training.
  • There is a general resistance to centralized authority, loss of local autonomy.
  • County child welfare supervisors and staff may resist change and training mandates, especially very senior or "long time" staff, professionally educated social workers, and workers who come from other states.
  • Current trainers may resist being trained and evaluated by new competency standards.


  • A system will be developed for the ongoing recruitment, evaluation, selection, and training of trainers.

Action Steps

  • Set up a standardized system of trainer recruitment, screening, interviewing and assessment, certification, development and evaluation of trainers.
  • Develop and use the computerized database to identify trainers who are certified to teach in the competency areas needed by their region.
  • Develop standards for trainer performance.
  • Development of ongoing knowledge and skills of trainers.


To design a dynamic curriculum development system that emphasizes competencies, social work values, ethics, and North Carolina’s child welfare standards.


Ultimately there should be written curricula and/or training workshops available for all competencies in the universe of competencies. The identification, assessment, adaptation, updating, and development of relevant training curricula will be an ongoing process for the life of the program.

Current state

  • The Division either contracts with universities and other private training providers for curriculum development or purchases existing curricula.


  • Curriculum priorities should be based on the ITCA.
  • The current child welfare standards need to be incorporated into curriculum content.
  • Curricula need to reflect the family-centered practice philosophy and be culturally sensitive.
  • Conflicting values about social work practice will need to be resolved.
  • Agency staff and other consumers need to have involvement at all levels of curriculum development.
  • The curricula needs to reflect best practice.
  • The training system needs to be flexible to meet the changing legislative mandates.

Driving forces

  • We are continuously working on to improve our curricula (although there is currently no system for sharing successful training practices and strategies).
  • We are currently learning and implementing the competency-based curriculum development process.

Restraining forces

  • Curriculum priorities are currently not based on an individualized training competency assessment
  • We currently lack a standard curriculum format.
  • Lack of full understanding of adult learning theory.
  • There is a continual need for training for workers of all levels of experience and education.
  • There are differing community standards and expectations about social work practice.


  • To develop a standardized format for pre-service and foundation curriculum development.
  • To establish a process for sharing information about curriculum development (i.e., activities to avoid duplication and to share training best practices).
  • To ensure that social work values and best practices are taught in all curricula.

Action Steps

  • Identify one standardized format for all pre-service and foundation curricula.
  • Use the competency-based curriculum development process to develop all our curricula; this extends to the way curriculum development committees will operate.
  • Ensure transfer of learning strategies are built into the development of all curricula.
  • Explore technological strategies to deliver training.
  • Incorporate case scenarios in curricula.
  • Recognize "unwritten" community and agency values.
  • Every curriculum should include a discussion of applicable social work values and ethics.


To establish fully functional regional training centers.


A regional delivery system assigns a training center to a group of constituent agencies within a certain geographic area to facilitate the planning of training that meets identified training needs in that area. A regional delivery system saves considerable resources by eliminating the need for trainees to travel long distances to training or to stay overnight.

Current state

  • We currently have established four regional training centers.
  • There are some geographic gaps between regional training centers.
  • We have employed a regional training center manager and staff for each region.


  • The system, when fully developed, will be responsive to local agency needs.
  • The staff will be responsible for providing consultation to county departments of social services regarding training needs.
  • The training in each region will be responsive to the ITCA data for each region.

Driving Forces

  • Satisfying the legislative mandate.
  • Strong support for regular training provided across the state.
  • Strong commitment for enhanced skills, knowledge, and attitudes of workers in providing service to children and families.

Restraining Forces

  • We are currently unable to meet all training needs.
  • All training centers are not readily accessible and are inconvenient for some.
  • Reputation of the trainers and the training system is mixed.
  • Financial resources are limited.
  • Regional training centers are understaffed (no regional training manager for each site).


  • To develop a fifth regional training center.
  • To increase the accessibility and availability of regional training centers and local training events.
  • To continue to disseminate training calendars.
  • To continue to recruit and hire knowledgeable central office and regional training center staff, as well as contract trainers.
  • To increase the use of technology and automation in the regional training centers.
  • To fully staff each regional training center with a regional training center manager.

Action steps

  • Delineate administrative subdivisions of the training system, based upon geography and distribution of staff within the system.
  • Regional training center staff conduct site visits to establish collaborative relationships with the staff and managers in their constituent agencies or service units, to identify local and regional training needs, and to identify resources within the region.
  • Schedule training in locations convenient to trainees.
  • Produce regular training calendars that will market training events to constituents.
  • Strategize effective ways to lobby for additional funding and resources.
  • Assess and collect data that supports the need for additional resources and staff.
  • Explore and develop the use of technology in training.
  • Refine recruitment and hiring standards and practices for employed staff and contracted staff.
  • Develop a system for identifying experts to train various topics and practices.


To ensure that evaluation becomes an integral component of the training system, including: evaluating trainers, participant learning, curricula, competencies, the ITCA process, training outcomes for children and families, cost analysis, and general satisfaction with training system responsiveness.


Use of a statewide data tracking system enables the systematic input of information needed to plan, administer, and evaluate training activities and staff participation. Measures of performance for the system must be identified, and the system’s input and output regularly assessed. A training system should evaluate all elements of the training system: responsiveness of the system to constituents and quality and timeliness of training.

All training activities are evaluated to determine their quality and relevance. Comprehensive data is maintained regarding individual staff attendance at training in order to identify compliance with training regulations.

Current state

  • We currently evaluate trainers based on participant satisfaction, though different forms are used based on the curricula.
  • Not all training evaluations are tallied. The training database does not allow for standardized reporting on trainer evaluations.
  • There is no other form of evaluation currently in place.


  • Mutual evaluation will enhance the partnership between the counties and state.
  • We strongly believe the training system should be accountable to its constituents. Evaluation will improve the training system and ensure a measure of consistency across the state.
  • Effective evaluation may help us to attract private dollars to support the system.

Driving Forces

  • Recent training legislation (1997).
  • Liability (Gammons case law decision stating that county employees act as agents of the State).
  • The state and counties continuously strive to provide quality services to children and families.

Restraining Forces

  • Fear of change.
  • Fear of failure.
  • Time and resources required to develop, monitor, and evaluate all aspects of the training system.
  • Lack of knowledge within N.C. Division of Social Services about evaluation.
  • Level IV training evaluation outcomes (measuring impact of training on children and families) is a new area of evaluation


  • To implement a system for the ongoing monitoring and evaluation of all training activities and program components.

Action Steps

  • Ensure that the statewide data base includes capacity to track trainer evaluation.
  • Develop a consistent trainer evaluation form and process.
  • Work with UNC-Greensboro to develop an evaluation plan and methodology.
  • Develop a training evaluation subcommittee.
  • Look into how training evaluation can build on other programmatic evaluation currently going on across the state.
  • Distribute training evaluation data.


To have a policy and administrative structure that promotes ongoing and collaborative planning, management, and evaluation of all system components.


The Statewide Training Advisory Committee, which is the representative planning and advice giving body for the training system, is essential to ensuring the ongoing effectiveness and quality of the training program. This group assures that the most knowledgeable and committed people in the system routinely conduct strategic planning, operational planning, and program evaluation.

Once the Statewide Training System is fully functional, the advisory committee will advocate for policy, procedural, and other changes in the service system to help achieve high practice standards.

Current state

  • We currently have an advisory committee that is evolving and needs to develop clarity of purpose and roles. Currently its primary purposes are to inform state staff on current status and opinion, to provide advice and direction, to affirm positive efforts, and to advocate for change.
  • The Children’s Services Staff Development Team leader is seeking guidance from the advisory committee, including training partners and consumers.
  • There is an emphasis on collaboration with a diverse group of individuals.
  • There is legislation mandating minimum training requirements.


  • Child welfare services training mandates will continue.
  • State Division of Social Services will continue it’s role in providing central management to the training system
  • Advisory committee will have a clearer role
  • Current level of funding will continue
  • Advisory committee will recommend training policies and act as an advisory group.

Driving forces

  • Legislation.
  • Commitment of the Staff Development Unit of the N.C. Division of Social Services’ Children’s Services Section.
  • Diversity of the current advisory committee.

Restraining forces

  • Confusion about role of the advisory committee
  • Lack of attendance from some members of committee.
  • Lack of information in the counties about the advisory committee


  • To define the role of this committee (policy, advisory, management).
  • To define guidelines for ongoing operation of the committee (membership, mtg. time, administration).
  • To implement the training system (an annual strategic and operational plan, an annual evaluation of committee operations and annual evaluation of training components).
  • To develop and maintain committee members that represent the various constituents of the training system (e.g., line workers as well as administrators) and that are culturally and ethnically diverse.

Action Steps

  • The committee will develop a clearer definition of committee role and purposes.
  • Creation of written guidelines for the operation of the committee.
  • Development of an initial plan for the next year.
  • Promotion of the committee to key stakeholders (public relations and communication).


To develop and implement a transfer of learning system that is comprehensive, consistent, and structured.


Transfer of learning refers to the use of knowledge and skills learned by trainees once they return to their jobs. Research suggests that without system-wide strategies that promote transfer, much of what is learned in training will never be used in the work place.

Transfer of learning requires collaboration between training managers, trainers, trainees, immediate supervisors, and the administrators and managers in the work environment. Strategies to promote transfer are incorporated into activities that prepare the worker to attend training, that occur during the training itself, and that support the worker in using new skills on the job after training.

Current state

  • There are currently no consistent efforts at transfer of learning strategies, although some effort been made to build this into the pre-service curriculum.
  • Some supervisors are using transfer of learning strategies.


  • Transfer of learning is important for sustained learning.
  • Transfer of learning strengthens good practice in home agency.
  • Feedback from training will enhance the transfer of learning
  • Learning is a partnership, and supervisors have a crucial role in developing successful employees.

Driving forces

  • With transfer of learning, knowledge and skills increase.
  • Social workers and supervisors will experience increased competence and confidence.
  • Client families and children will experience quality services and outcomes consistent with the vision of Children’s Services in North Carolina.
  • Transfer of learning will strengthen good practice in county agencies.
  • Transfer of learning will help agencies assess workers’ and supervisors’ suitability for their positions.
  • Some supervisors are interested in conducting TOL activities and in the development of their staff, but don’t have the time, knowledge or skills to do so.

Restraining forces

  • There is a perception that there is not time for individuals to participate in the transfer of learning.
  • Transfer of learning strategies are not currently built into the training design.
  • County staff and trainers themselves do not fully appreciate the importance of transfer of learning.
  • Inconsistent messages between practice and training.
  • Supervisors lack of knowledge about transfer of learning and its importance.
  • Some supervisors do not think that they are responsible for transfer of learning activities, or for the professional development of their trainers.


  • Directors, supervisors, and trainers will understand their role in the transfer of learning and be invested in it.
  • Development of transfer of learning tools and strategies that can be used by supervisors, trainers, and administrators.
  • Ensure the development of transfer of learning strategies in all curricula.
  • Promote the use of the transfer of learning tools.

Action Steps

  • Develop informational and educational materials about transfer of learning and deliver them to DSS staff, contract trainers, and children’s services trainers.
  • Educate Regional Training Center and state staff so they can function as consultants on transfer of learning.
  • Develop a system to support supervisors to continue transfer of learning activities and to assist in the development transfer of learning tools.
  • Ensure that there is a packet of materials for each curriculum that incorporates competencies to be taught and suggested transfer of learning strategies (before, during, and after steps).
  • Ensure there are transfer of learning activities within each training.
  • Build a reward system for agencies (i.e., recognition, incentives) that use transfer of learning strategies.