GREAT FALLS — The Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services (DPHHS) hosted a "Child Welfare 101" training session in Great Falls on Tuesday, November 2, 2021, at Great Falls College-MSU.
A news release from DPHHS says that Child Welfare 101 brings together all the key community partners that make up the child welfare system and reviews how the different roles work together to ensure child safety and strengthen families. Participants included judges, county attorneys, public defenders, and Court Appointed Special Advocates.
“Communication and understanding between all entities involved in child welfare is critical to successfully serving the children and families of Montana,” DPHHS Director Adam Meier said. “The child welfare system is complex, and it really takes all of us working together to improve the system as a whole.”
Erica Johnston of DPHHS explained, “It's important to recognize that child welfare and child welfare workers are only one part of a system that is necessary to keep kids safe and family strong in Montana.”
The training included a two-hour introduction to Collaborative Safety. DPHHS says the Collaborative Safety model is founded in safety science, behavioral analysis, forensic interviewing and is encased in a trauma-informed lens. The model creates a culture of accountability, addresses underlying systemic issues and sees people as the solution.
DPHHS started to incorporate Collaborative Safety into its day-to-day efforts since Meier became the agency director earlier this year.
“It moves away from a reactionary approach toward a comprehensive process that addresses systemic factors so together we can make critical advancement to promote safe outcomes,” Meier explains. “This approach has been championed by safety-critical industries, including health care, aviation and others.”
Listening sessions are held following the training to offer an opportunity for participants to ask questions and provide feedback to help improve the child welfare system.
Johnston said, “This is a complex system that shows that there’s more than one player, and until we use this framework and introduce it to all of the stakeholders involved in the process, we’re not going to be able to impact the outcomes.”
Training sessions were also held in Bozeman and Kalispell last week, and will wrap up in Billings tomorrow.