The Atlantic Coast Child Welfare Implementation Center (ACCWIC) held its second forum for state and tribal welfare agencies from Pennsylvania to Florida and west to Mississippi on June 15 and 16 in Annapolis, Md. ACCWIC is part of the Ruth H. Young Center for Families and Children at the University of Maryland School of Social Work.
Child welfare leaders participated in two full days of workshops intended to build capacity in adaptive leadership and implementation science. Panels of project leadership presented critical early learning on implementation that has been taking place in Tennessee, Mississippi, North Carolina, and West Virginia.
Diane DePanfilis, PhD, MSW, associate dean for research and a professor at the School, director of the Ruth Young Center and principal investigator of ACCWIC, gave an overview. She urged listeners to gain from their peers' presentations of techniques that help systems to better serve children, their families and their communities.
Richard P. Barth, PhD, MSW, dean of the School and an ACCWIC evaluation consultant, welcomed participants to the conference, which was held at the Annapolis Marriott Waterfront Hotel. It drew approximately 80 participants from 12 states, the District of Columbia, and three tribes.
A Native American ceremony set the tone as Kristen Oates, social services representative of the Catawba Indian Nation, recited a blessing and burned a bundle of sage meant to open participants' minds to learning. She also read a poem by Catawba tribal member Beckee Garris about how being of mixed race has not diminished pride in her heritage.
The ACCWIC project director, Cathy Fisher, MSW, described the forum as having offered "an exciting opportunity to bring together child welfare leaders and our states where we have projects to share the learning around implementation. The ultimate goal for all our implementation projects is to improve safety, increase permanency, and improve well-being for children and families in the child welfare system."
ACCWIC co-investigator and director for evaluation Sarah Kaye, PhD, MA, analyzed the progress made in the participating states with an implementation science framework. Presentations by the state teams also highlighted the boost to their efforts that resulted from working with ACCWIC to move beyond "a plan, train, and hope" approach to one involving a well-staged implementation process to ensure more predictable and meaningful change.
The forum gave those in attendance a chance to network with counterparts and hear about resources to support training and technical assistance for their organizations. The technical assistance is part of ACCWIC implementation projects, and presentations outlined opportunities to participate in Round 2 projects.
ACCWIC is one of five implementation centers nationwide established in 2008 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau. The forum also drew experts from the Children's Bureau and its Training & Technical Assistance Network, of which ACCWIC is a member.