In October 1991, New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth & Families (then Division for Children & Youth Services) published a formal proposal requesting a training program for its employees. The request was granted and the contract was awarded to the North American Family Institute (NAFI) in early 1992. The Comprehensive Training Support System was established by spring 1992 and by the summer, this unique collaboration between NAFI and DCYS was renamed the Staff Development Partnership, to more accurately reflect the nature of the project.
The project encompassed a Family-Centered Services philosophy to practice. Initial training efforts focused on the components of a family-centered assessment. These trainings helped identify the strengths of the family and helped staff focus on a positive approach to addressing family needs.
The next major effort of the Staff Development Partnership was the development of the first Annual “Centering on Families” Conference. This two-day conference targeted over 350 division staff as well as 50 group-home providers and offered over 36 different workshops. The annual conference continues to serve as an intensive learning experience and has made New Hampshire a leading force in family-centered services in the New England region.
In July 2009, DCYF contracted with the University of New Hampshire to establish the Center for Professional Excellence in Child Welfare (CPE). Based on the fundamental principles of the Staff Development Partnership, CPE is creating an updated, technologically advanced system of high-quality services for the professional development of New Hampshire child welfare and juvenile justice workers. CPE fosters excellence in the New Hampshire child protective and juvenile justice workforce by:
- Providing a comprehensive, outcomes-focused, and competency-based program of staff training, mentoring, and peer support, on-going professional development opportunities and other resources to enhance the capacity of agency staff, supervisors, caregivers, providers, and other stakeholders
- Ensuring all training and professional development activities are accessible and incorporate child welfare best practice research in an ongoing way
- Delivering training and support based on adult learning principles, utilization of innovative learning and networking technologies; and capacity building through train the trainer (TOT) programming
- Integrating and coordinating NH CPE’s work with the current training infrastructure, as well as DCYF and stakeholders’ needs and requirements
- Embedding needs assessment, program evaluation, and quality improvement processes throughout the entire system
- Ensuring all programs are high quality, as well as cost effective