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NCWWI has developed a multi-media collection of Real Stories From the Field that provide unique, first-person insight into workforce development and the work of NCWWI in jurisdictions across the country.  These Real Stories can be useful illustrations related to the child welfare workforce and systemic change initiatives.  Discussion questions have been developed to support their use in within social work classes.  In addition, resources to support planning and conducting a Workforce Film Festival have also been prepared.  



As an MSW student at the University of North Dakota, Skye Albert received a NCWWI traineeship that sent her to work in a rural part of the state that was facing a child welfare crisis. Skye not only tackled the unique challenges facing the county, but inspired her MSW program to re-think how they prepare students to work in the field. Discussion questions could include: 

  1. On a personal level, how have your experiences led to your current career path?
  2. How can agencies employ these personal stories in finding and keeping a committed workforce?
  3. How can you inspire resiliency as a student and long-term in the workforce?
  4. What are the challenges of a rural workforce? What can schools of social work do to support a rural workforce? What can small, rural agencies do to support their workforce?
  5. How could some of the approaches mentioned in this story be implemented at your agency? What are the possibilities? What barriers need to be overcome? 




Dana Jones, a Field Support and Training Manager in Missouri, was facing high staff turnover rates and an over-stressed child welfare system in her region. Through the LAMM, she developed a change initiative that has made a big impact on worker satisfaction, and ultimately, outcomes for children and families.Discussion questions could include: 

  1. What do you think is the recipe for investing in relationships in the workplace?  What are essential ingredients and are there specific conditions that are necessary? 
  2. In addition to flexibility and positive relationships with supervisors, what other workplace conditions would help to support your professional development?
  3. Can you identify additional outcomes of investing in staff retention?  



Video100.fwUnderstanding the personal journey – or context - that leads people to a career in child welfare is an important part of being an effective leader. This story explores how the Director of Missouri’s Children’s Division has shaped his leadership style around understanding the life stories of workers. Discussion questions could include: 

  1. What has led you to choose this work?
  2. What opportunities do you have to listen to the stories of others (colleagues, children, families, or others)?
  3. What have you learned from listening to the stories of others? How have the stories of others impacted your work? What leadership competencies do you use when listening to the stories of others?
  4. From whom do you or your agency need to hear more stories? 



Podcast100.fwThis is the story of 3 graduate students from the UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare who were able to connect their research to practice through their NCWWI traineeships. After their research uncovered areas for improving local practice, they presented their findings to a group of managers from the field, who were compelled to act on what the students had found. Discussion questions could include: 

  1. What do you think led to these students success in sharing data and facilitating change? 
  2. Identify an issue in child welfare where data driven decision-making would be useful.  Identify a research question and the types of data that would be useful for affecting the issue.  



Podcast100.fwAnne Graham, a child welfare middle manager from New Hampshire, developed a much needed change initiative during her participation in the LAMM. Although her project addressed a serious gap in worker pre-service training, it took several years until she was able influence and enact change. This story explains how her preparation met the opportunity to be realized. Discussion questions could include: 

  1. Give some examples of how Anne used specific principles of Adaptive leadership in implementing change. 
  2. Competing priorities and lack of influence were barriers for implementing the planned change.  She waited for the right opportunity to be able to implement this change.  In this podcast it was said that “Success happens when preparation meets opportunity.”   Identify how Anne was prepared to use the opportunity when it presented itself?
  3. How was implementation science used to support Anne in implementing her change initiaitive.  Give specific examples?  



Video100.fwCherokee Nation Indian Child Welfare faced big challenges to move their agency forward. NCWWI signed on to assist and to do so had to change the way they operated, too. Together they faced these challenges to make a difference for children and families.

  1. Nikki Baker talks about the Cherokee Nation suffering from significant stress due to the turnover of top leadership.  What can organizational leaders at all levels do to mitigate the stress experienced when there is change in top leadership?
  2. Identify the specific strategies that the NCWWI project and the Cherokee Nation Social Services used to engage and get buy in from their workforce? 
  3. Basket weaving is a metaphor used throughout this Real Story to illustrate the work of the Cherokee Nation leadership. Review and summarize how this metaphor illustrates the work of these leaders to bring about change.  



Video100.fwThe Missouri Children’s Division faced big challenges prior to 2014. Too many children were in out-of-home care, child welfare workers approached practice inconsistently, and the state was plagued by high staff turnover rates. This is the story of how the Division collaborated on a Workforce Excellence project to design and implement a new practice model to address these issues. Discussion questions could include: 

  1. What was learned during this project that might inform work in other jurisdictions that don’t have the benefit of NCWWI services?
  2. The Real Story highlights the use of Distributive Leadership, what do you understand about this approach to leadership and can you give examples of how this workforce excellence project used distributive leadership? 
  3. How did this project lay a foundation for implementation of the practice model across the whole State?
  4. What can this project in Missouri teach us about change?