Change by Design was hired by the Florida Department of Children and Families to develop a comprehensive curriculum for preservice child welfare workers.
We knew going into this project that the work we were doing was important. Without intervention, children who grow up in family systems - where abuse, neglect, addiction, mental illness, severe dysfunction, and even torture are all the norm - tend to grow up and perpetuate these patterns.
So creating transformational training, one that empowered child welfare workers of all kinds throughout the state of Florida to do their jobs effectively, was critical to slowing down and even stopping these destructive cycles.
Storytelling was a key part of our approach. We carefully crafted a narrative around a multi- generational family whose story spanned 40 years. In this story, we showed where the trauma began, how it festered, and how it was perpetuated. We also showed how intervention could lead to resilience and positive transformation for the family over time.
Most activities within the core curriculum centered on this family, so that child welfare workers would engage deeply with an authentic family case study. In this way, they would be more likely to remember later, in the field, the nuances of this story, all its characters, and why they had to persist with difficult families.
Supplemental eLearning training was designed to dovetail with the practicum piece of this core curriculum. These eLearnings were part of an accountability structure that ensured child welfare workers had a rich apprenticeship-type of field experience and held supervisors accountable for true change in the system.
The project was fraught with challenges, but we stayed the course and produced logic-model aligned, evidence-based training that could indeed develop workforce capacity, infuse deep insights into the challenges and needs of families in crisis, and enable a new cadre of child welfare workers to do the messy, heartbreaking, hopeful work that they must do with families to make a difference