Nebraska Division of Children and Family Services and Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Time: 2019 – 2020

Services Provided: Consultation, Training, Curriculum and Material Development, Program Evaluation

Partnership Overview:

Child welfare agencies experience high rates of turnover among their staff. To combat this, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families funded the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center on Children, Families and the Law, in 2016, with a five-year, $15 million research grant. The Center created the Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development and selected eight public and tribal child welfare agencies across the country to test and evaluate workforce strategies aimed at improving worker recruitment, retention and satisfaction.

One of the selected sites, the Nebraska Division of Children and Family Services, partnered with The NYSPCC to implement its Restoring Resiliency Response (RRR) crisis debriefing protocol as part of a multi-component intervention to address secondary traumatic stress (STS) among frontline workers and supervisors across the state. The site chose to focus on STS after surveys of child welfare staff in two jurisdictions found elevated levels of STS symptoms among workers. STS symptoms can mimic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms, such as nightmares, flashbacks, avoidance and irritability, and can lead to worker dissatisfaction and turnover. The intervention that was designed to address STS is called CFS Strong and consists of two other components, Resilience Alliance and peer support groups.

The RRR crisis debriefing protocol was created by Dr. Mary Pulido in 2006 to support child welfare workers following a critical incident, such as a child fatality. Individual or group sessions with a trained facilitator occur 48-72 hours after a critical incident and integrate education, emotional expression and cognitive restricting to promote healing. The NYSPCC currently conducts RRR sessions with staff from the New York City Administration of Children Services, New York City’s child protective agency, and with Safe Horizon, an agency that provides services to survivors of domestic violence. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The NYSPCC held a virtual training with Nebraska project staff in May 2020, to teach the key concepts of the RRR protocol. NYSPCC will hold virtual trainings in August 2020 for selected clinicians to become facilitators of the RRR sessions in Nebraska. The NYSPCC will continue to provide consultation and evaluation support to the Nebraska project team as the RRR model is rolled out to child welfare workers across the state.