NCWWI Workforce Excellence Site Overview:

Erie County DSS
University at Buffalo, State University of New York 

NCWWI Workforce Excellence Initiative

Through its partnerships with NCWWI and the University at Buffalo, SUNY, Erie County Child Welfare will provide a supportive environment for all staff through inclusivity and equity that fosters trust and empowers staff to build careers in child welfare. We envision a workplace that develops passionate advocates that are committed to personal and professional development, family and community partnership, and anti-racist practices.    

Key Assessment Findings

Strengths include:

  • Staff are proud of the work they do
  • Racial equity is a clearly stated goal for the agency in the work with children and families in the community.
  • Agency leaders actively engage staff to try new ways of addressing persistent problems
  • Agency leaders have strengthened their relationship with community partners

Challenges include:

  • High workloads contribute to job stress and time pressure, especially for supervisors
  • Past and current work-related trauma and high levels of secondary traumatic stress, time pressure, and burnout
  • COVID-related ‘pauses’ delayed NCWWI work and staff impacted by needed safety equipment, reduced workforce due to illness or caring for loved ones with COVID, inadequate technology for virtual meetings, and not able to meet (virtually or in-person during peak of COVID-19 and Omicron episodes)

Implementation Activities

  • 17 students, employees of Erie County DSS, have received stipends since 2019 and 5 have graduated with a Master’s in Social Work
  • Leadership Training adapted to agency culture; training is ongoing & coaches are actively working with training participants
  • Implementation Team engaged in racial equity training and self-reflection activities facilitated by the Disproportionate Minority Representation & Organizational Anti-Racism Action Team-DMR OARA
  • All 3 Action Teams are working to diversify staff in leadership roles with a focus on training, mentoring options, and the creation of appropriate tools that can lead to fair and equitable assessments of staff skills.

Strategies Overview

  • All DMR OARA team members participate in Racial Equity Leadership Training and develop Erie specific agency racial equity program with expert consultant
  • Recruitment-Selection-Retention is creating new ways to diversify staff that bring non-traditional skills to the agency; as well as identify process for CPS to develop BIPOC leaders
  • Workload & Conditions is designing a professional staff development approach that includes training and measurable goals created between supervisors and staff
  • Implementation Team developing messaging across the agency & within units that fosters collaboration, solution-focused & trauma-informed approaches that will build trust and include equity in decision-making.
  • Develop transition for students that fosters leadership succession and a learning organization that uses data to understand the impact of change efforts.