Child welfare work is complex. Child welfare professionals must have the appropriate knowledge, skills, and related confidence to perform their jobs well. To effectively support families, keep children safe, and manage related programs and systems, child welfare workers need high levels of expertise and competencies. Knowledge and skills enable individuals to function effectively in their current positions, develop competencies to grow into new positions, and adapt to changing conditions.
Possessing the right knowledge and skills and having the ability to apply them affect how well the child welfare workforce functions. At the same time, organizational culture and climate can influence the attitudes, motivation, and willingness to apply knowledge and skills in practice.
Child welfare agencies develop organizational knowledge and skills to achieve desired outcomes. Agencies build knowledge and skills along a continuum that begins with initial awareness and continues through to high levels of technical competencies and abilities to apply them in various situations. As agencies recognize needs, introduce new priorities and programs, and respond to emerging research and trends, they will continue to identify new areas for building knowledge and skills. They will draw on training and workforce development systems within their organizational infrastructure to build new capacity.
As an agency explores needs for building capacity in knowledge and skills, considerations include:
- What areas of knowledge and skills currently are needed across different parts of the child welfare workforce? Where is the agency strong? Where does the agency need to develop organizational knowledge and skills?
- How might emerging child welfare trends shape new areas of knowledge and skill needs in the near future?
- What strategies does the agency need to build knowledge and skills in different areas of identified need across subdimensions, such as leadership, child welfare practice, cultural competence, and change management?
- How do training, supervision, and professional development systems support foundational and program-specific knowledge and skill development?
- How does the agency develop expertise in analytic and evaluative skills at different levels of the agency? In change management?
- How do agency leaders and managers promote and support learning across the agency?