Mind the Gap: Addressing Child Welfare Challenges with Workforce Development Strategies

Mind the Gap #10: Peer Mentoring, Crisis Response & Resilience-building – NJ DCF’s Worker2Worker

National Webinar: April 12, 2017
Learning Exchange
: April 19, 2017

Vicarious trauma, burnout, and lack of self-care can challenge all first responders, including child welfare professionals. First responders who care for others often need peer counseling, crisis support and other resilience-building services to normalize issues and promote retention. These activities are best provided by those with shared lived experiences that traditional mental health or employee assistance programs are not set up to deliver. To meet this need, the NJ Department of Children and Families implemented the Worker2Worker (W2W) program, a confidential peer-counseling helpline and support approach for employees in the Department’s Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) to help manage the unique stressors of frontline child welfare practice:

Coordinated by Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care and staffed by former child welfare supervisors and caseworkers, W2W provides a 7-day-a-week helpline reflective of a nationally recognized best practice model of peer support, Reciprocal Peer Support. The program offers clinical care telephone assessments, a network of referral/treatment services, and psychological first aid with crisis response services following traumatic events. In addition, the program has expanded to provide peer mentoring with training and monthly follow-up with an assigned peer mentor for all new child welfare staff, as well as regular resilience-building educational and peer support events, such as Taming Trauma.

W2W has successfully delivered and expanded its approach to reach more than 11,000 contacts over the last three years, with marked success. Presenters will highlight how the program’s components have been operationalized, as well as relevant tips, tools and lessons learned to help others develop and sustain similar trauma-reducing and resilience-building initiatives in child welfare and human service agencies and systems. 

Presenters include: Nancy Carré-Lee, Deputy Director of Central Operations, NJ DCF and Cherie Castellano, W2W Program Director, Rutgers UBHC. For more information, please explore our Presenter Bios.



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