Breakthrough Series Collaborative

In March 2023, NCWWI launched a Breakthrough Series Collaborative (BSC) to support four tribal and seven public child welfare programs across the country in an 18-month initiative to cultivate a sustainability workforce that values justice, equity, and inclusivity. The foundational principles include:

  • Building and sustaining anti-racist, de-colonized organizations of inclusivity and belongingness.
  • Implementing trauma-informed practices with organizations and families.
  • Honoring the dignity and autonomy of the workforce and families the organizations serve.

Participating Teams

Tribal Teams
  • Kenaitze Indian Tribe
  • Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians
  • Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, East End
  • Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, West End
Public Teams
  • Illinois, Carlinville
  • Illinois, Harvey North
  • Kansas, Northeast
  • Kansas, Northwest
  • Washington State, Seattle
  • Washington State, Spokane 
  • New York, Westchester County

What is a Breakthrough Series Collaborative?

In a Breakthrough Series Collaborative, organizations develop teams of 6-8 staff across their program that include senior leaders, managers, supervisors, human resource staff, and data specialists. Teams meet regularly to create a shared language, vision, and priorities for building a sustainable workforce. They gather data to identify opportunities for growth, develop change strategies, test new ideas, collect data to track progress, and spread successes using Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycles that is guided by a Collaborative Change Framework. For our BSC, there was also a NCWWI Guide assigned to each team to provide support and technical assistance related to using data, and scaling and spreading successful strategies.

Collaborative Change Framework

 The NCWWI BSC utilized the Surgeon General’s Framework for Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being that addresses five essential elements of well-being that include Protection from Harm, Connection and Community, Work-Life Harmony, Mattering at Work, and Opportunity for Growth. NCWWI convened content advisors from across the country to adapt the framework for tribal and public child welfare programs. 

Tribal Collaborative Change Framework

Public Collaborative Change Framework

Shared Learning

To share learning across the NCWWI BSC, all participating teams meet in monthly cross-team affinity groups and all-team learning sessions. NCWWI also hosted two highly successful in-person Learning Sessions, with a third planned for April 2024.

Learning Session 1

On April 25-26, 2023, we convened the BSC teams in Albuquerque, NM, for our first of three in-person Learning Sessions, and it was a blast! The energy levels were high from start to end, and everyone was eager to get started. During the meeting, we focused on building relationships within and across teams and helping teams get to know the NCWWI Guides, who support their work throughout the initiative. Teams engaged in deep discussions, a self-assessment of their workforce, shared ideas, and left the meeting with an initial plan for trying new strategies to address their needs.   

Learning Session 2

Our second learning session was held in Kansas City, MO, on November 15 and 16, 2023. Throughout the two-day gathering, each team highlighted the small tests of change strategies they were testing and implementing in their agencies to improve worker well-being, build connection and community, and help with employee retention. While the two-day gathering was packed with insightful sessions, it was the speed-sharing session that came out as a clear favorite! Each team showcased one of their successful PDSAs, and other team members had the opportunity to walk around, listen in, and ask questions. The passion of the BSC team members and the community spirit was inspiring to see. The work that BSC teams are doing to build cultures that value justice, equity, diversity, and belonging is a shining example of how a small effort can lead to significant changes!  

Learning Session 3

Coming soon!

What We've Learned

All teams have shown tremendous growth in designing and testing change strategies using PDSA across all essential elements of our Collaborative Change Framework. Some examples include:

  • Creating wellness teams and spaces for staff to address secondary traumatic stress
  • Creating “Resilience Buddies” for staff peer support and mentoring
  • Creating protected time for staff to catch up on administrative job demands and reduce job stress and workload burden
  • Creating “Miigwech cards” to show staff appreciation
  • Monthly staff gatherings of staff across the agency for brave spaces to discuss issues of racial equity and inclusion

We are looking forward to the remaining few months of the BSC and will continue to share what we learn.