Integrated Practice for Social Systems Three-Hour Workshop

February 19, 2014 | Phil Decter, Associate Director, NCCD and Heather Meitner, Senior Program Specialist, NCCD


What is integrated practice?

What is integrated practice?

Integrated social work practice is an approach to day-to-day child welfare casework that is designed to help all the key stakeholders involved with a child—the parents, extended family; child welfare worker; supervisors and managers; lawyers, judges and other court officials; even the child him/herself—to keep a clear focus on obtaining rigorous and balanced assessments while enhancing child safety at all points in the case process. It combines the best of strengths- and solution-focused child welfare practice with the Structured-Decision Making® (SDM) system—a set of research-based decision-support tools—to create a rigorous child welfare practice model. In jurisdictions that already use the SDM® system, this practice model enhances SDM use in decision making and strengthens the use of data and risk factors to best inform work with families at all points in the case process.

Overarching Objectives of an Integrated Social Work Practice Model

  • Development of good working relationships. Using a spirit of curiosity and respect and a shared language for important child welfare concepts to help create good working relationships among all the key stakeholders involved with a family.
  • Use of critical thinking and decision-support tools. Helping all of these stakeholders use the best of their experience and the best of state-of-the-art child welfare research to jointly assess family situations and to arrive at clear statements of both the risk to the child and the goals for a child welfare intervention.
  • Creation of detailed, collaborative plans for enhancing daily safety of children. Creating jointly developed, understandable, achievable, and behaviorally based plans that include all the stakeholders involved and that clearly show how enhanced child protection will occur on an ongoing basis.

What will I learn about the process?

NCCD Children’s Research Center (CRC) staff will share how our work has supported jurisdictions to implement an integrated practice model and lessons learned along the way. CRC generally partners with a local organizational development team to facilitate a three-phase process over multiple years to 1) define their model, 2) implement their model, and 3) plan for model sustainability over the long term. This process is deeply informed by lessons learned from implementation science with a goal of creating a learning organization supportive of continuous quality improvement (CQI) every step of the way. Successful uptake of new practice depends more on an overall approach to implementation than a singular approach to training and/or coaching alone.

Integrated practice implementation shifts the experience of families from one where compliance is central to one of achieving meaningful behavioral changes over time. The goal is for families to benefit from services while simultaneously building their informal support network for long-term accountability once the child welfare case is closed. The practice seeks to move families from safety and well-being sustainability obtained thorough professional means to one where sustainability is obtained because the family and network around the child are a present part of the child’s life committed to keeping the child safe. Strategies to align the agency CQI structure and outcome measures will also be discussed.

We look forward to sharing more in our workshop on Thursday, May 15, 2014, at the NCCD Conference on Children, Youth, and Families in San Diego, California.

Phil Decter is an Associate Director at NCCD. Heather Meitner is a Senior Program Specialist at NCCD.