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 who 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 relationships 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 “pause” delayed NCWWI work.
  • Staff were impacted by limitations to PPE and technology that they needed for remote work with children, families, and supervisors.

Implementation Activities

  • 15 stipend students, employees of Erie County DSS, began social work degree programs; 5 have graduated.
  • 9 Leadership Academy Coaches have been trained. Two additional coaches are “master coaches” (will support coaches & train future coaches). Ten trainers have completed the Leadership Academy training program. Fifteen managers are currently participating in the first leadership training cohort.
  • County Implementation Team meets monthly to assess workforce, plan strategies, and support Action Teams.
  • 3 Action Teams:
    • (1) DMR OARA [Disproportionate Minority Representation & Organizational Anti-Racism] has been active for several years.
    • (2) Recruitment-Selection-Retention and (3) Workload and Conditions were recently created and are now meeting.

Strategies Overview


  • All staff are participating in racial equity training.
  • Exploring race-blind decision-making.
  • Exploring best practice strategies that use a racially equitable lens, have a positive impact on family outcomes, and are beneficial to the workforce.


  • Implementation Team will improve program-wide communication.
  • Erie County DSS-NCWWI Partnership for community-wide child welfare communication.


Workload & Conditions and Recruit-Select-Retain strategies are being identified by two recently formed Action Teams.

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