New courses added to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in child welfare

November 1, 2021

The CDHS Division of Child Welfare's training system has added the following free trainings for child welfare professionals. The trainings are offered by Kamilah Clayton, a registered social worker and psychotherapist with more than ten years of social work experience, who utilizes an identity-affirming approach to mental health and wellness. She facilitates learning opportunities around Black mental health for members of the African Canadian community and organizations seeking to address the impact that experiences of anti-Black racism have on staff and client wellness. Anyone interested in a training, can register through the Colorado Child Welfare Training System LMS system.

Building Collaborative Relationships with Black Communities and Black-Serving Organizations

Throughout history, the child welfare system’s relationship with Black communities has been marked by over-surveillance, pathology, and paternalistic interventions. As a result, many members of Black communities lack trust in the child welfare system and are hesitant to work collaboratively to address protection concerns and build safety. In this interactive workshop, you will learn how to work together with Black families and communities, with a specific focus on:

  • using a strengths-based/asset-focused approach to assessing and working with Black families,
  • meaningfully engaging with Black-serving organizations and building relationships of trust, and
  • developing practice commitments that will enhance your practice with Black families and communities.

Decentering Whiteness in Work with Black Families

Since its inception, the child welfare system has been designed to meet the needs of white families and, in contrast, has been punitive and paternalistic in its treatment of Black children, youth, and families. The centering of white/dominant norms in child welfare has left little room for culturally responsive trauma-informed practice, and this has contributed to disparate treatment and outcomes for Black families in the system. In order for true system change to happen, there needs to be an uncovering of the ways that whiteness operates within child welfare and the impact it has had on Black families. In this interactive workshop, you will 

  • identify ways that whiteness has been centered in child welfare,

  • engage in critical self-reflection around personal biases and assumptions, and
  • use a culturally sensitive theoretical approach to reimagine practice with Black children, youth, and families.

Empowering Black Staff: Creating and Supporting Safety and Wellness for Black Workers (*for supervisors and managers*)

All child welfare staff deserve to work in spaces where they feel safe, supported, and empowered to do their best work. Black child welfare staff often have to navigate their own experiences of anti-Blackness in the workplace while also participating in child welfare practices that cause harm to Black children, youth, and families. These experiences can leave Black staff feeling devalued and can lead to burnout, performance issues, and, in some cases, leaving the field altogether. During this interactive workshop, you will be guided in creating safe and inclusive spaces for Black staff, with a specific focus on

  • identifying anti-Blackness in the workplace and the impact on Black staff,

  • examining the effectiveness of current organizational policies or practices intended to address anti-Black racism in the workplace, and
  • developing organizational practice commitments focused on creating safe and inclusive work environments for Black staff.

Trauma, Race, and Engagement: How Experiencing Trauma Related to Anti-Black Racism Affects the Working Relationship

Black families in contact with the child welfare system are more likely than white and other racial groups to have reports of abuse and neglect verified, have prolonged involvement with the system, and experience family separation through child removal and placement in foster care. Black children are not only more likely to enter care, they are also less likely to exit care via reunification with their families or adoption. For many Black families, these disparate experiences and outcomes can be trauma inducing and deeply impact the working relationship with child welfare staff. In this interactive workshop, you will

  • learn how to define racial, collective, and intergenerational trauma, specifically as these apply to Black communities,

  • explore how trauma associated with experiencing systemic anti-Black racism impacts Black children, youth, and families and influences the working relationship with the child welfare system, and
  • learn how to use a trauma-informed lens in working with Black families.

A Focus on Equity: Culturally Responsive Ways of Working with Black Families

Black families in contact with the child welfare system continue to face disparate treatment and outcomes, resulting in disproportionately high rates of Black children and youth in care, prolonged involvement of child welfare in the lives of Black families, and overall negative experiences contributing to a lack of trust in the system. Child welfare has acknowledged the need to “do better” in the provision of equitable service to historically marginalized communities, and doing better begins with identifying the critical issues and taking steps toward enacting change. 

In this interactive three-part virtual seminar series, you’ll examine the presence of anti-Black racism in child welfare and its impact on Black families, learn culturally responsive ways of working with Black families and communities, and develop commitments that will have you transferring theory into practice and making real change.

In Part One: Laying the Context, you’ll address the impact anti-Black racism has on service provision to Black children, youth, and families, and you’ll

identify specific ways that anti-Blackness shows up in work with Black families at the individual and systemic levels,

  • identify key decision points where anti-Blackness is most impactful to the case trajectory, and
  • engage in critical self-reflection about the ways your practice has reinforced or challenged anti-Black racism in child welfare.

In Part Two: Promising Practices, you’ll explore culturally responsive ways of working with Black families and communities. Child welfare professionals who work with Black families using a strengths-based and identity-affirming approach can offer a much more positive experience for Black children, youth, and families, harnessing their inherent strengths and a long history of caring for children and keeping them safe. You’ll move your practice forward by

  • identifying existing practices that honor Black families in contact with child welfare,
  • learning and using a culturally responsive theoretical framework in your work, and
  • developing concrete practice commitments, the progress of which you’ll review in the final session.

In Part Three: Where Are We Now? you’ll check in on your practice commitments to keep your learning progressing. You’ll

  • review your progress in integrating your practice commitments and
  • develop a plan for further practice integration and/or set new practice commitments.

Learners must attend all seminar sessions to receive credit for this learning experience.

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