As an educational program coordinator at the UNH Center for Professional Excellence in Child Welfare [CPE], a training contract with DCYF, I have seen a number of activities and initiatives related to the PIP. Many of these have had a direct impact on the work that I do. For example, PIP-related trainings that my colleagues at CPE and I have helped coordinate include Solution Based Casework and Solution Based Family Meetings. Similarly, my work on curriculum development and updates are meant to integrate Solution Based Casework and engagement strategies into the trainings offered to child protective services staff in order to better align practice with the PIP.
In spite of my experience with the training related results of the PIP, I had not had the opportunity to get a first-hand view of how many of the new principles and practices that the PIP drives play out in the day-to-day life of a case. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in the Manchester CPR as the community stakeholder in December of last year. What I saw was impressive.
First, it was wonderful to see an agency as sprawling as DCYF pulling together to take an honest look at its progress. The reviewers came from around the state, from multiple disciplines, and from every level within DCYF. Both Juvenile Justice [JJ] and Child Protective Services [CPS] were represented and reviewers included workers and officers as well as supervisors. Administrators, including the Division’s director, from both CPS and JJ were available onsite throughout the review process to provide quality assurance and guidance. The sense of teamwork was palpable.
Second, I was encouraged by the honesty and good faith I observed. It was clear throughout the week that, while the hope was that items reviewed would be strengths, the most important goal was accurate, reliable reporting. Concerns were taken seriously and no one shied away from identifying areas in need of improvement when necessary.
Finally, as both a member of the community and as a training professional, it was wonderful to see evidence of DCYF’s improvement. The PIP is about more than the process of completing the PIP. It’s about improving the work that DCYF does and, ultimately, it’s about improving the lives of children, youth, and families throughout our state. What I saw in the cases I reviewed, and what I heard of the cases of my fellow reviewers, fills me with hope and pride in the ability of our state to identify areas of need and then successfully address those areas. I’m pleased to have played a small part in this process of organizational self-assessment – after all, assessment is the necessary bookend to learning.