New initiative will provide child welfare training

COLUMBIA, SC – There are currently more than 4,000 children in the foster care system throughout South Carolina, according to the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS)., The Palmetto Association for Children and Families (PAFCAF) is dedicated to providing education, support and leadership that strengthens the capacity of PAFCAF’s member agencies and betters the care of children in foster care.

That’s why PAFCAF has partnered with the Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E) to provide its members with access to The National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative (NTI). NTI enhances the capacity of child welfare professionals by addressing complex needs of children and families as they move towards permanency through adoption or guardianship.

This training helps providers facilitate the healing process that happens in nurturing trusted relationships.

Megan Branham

Director of Policy and Research, PAFCAF

“PAFCAF is proud to provide its members with an opportunity to take part in the NTI pilot” said Megan Branham, PAFCAF’s Director of Policy and Research. “This training helps providers facilitate the healing process that happens in nurturing trusted relationships. We’re excited that South Carolina is contributing input on a curriculum that will be released to child welfare professionals nationwide.”Many children who are adopted or in guardianship care, experience elevated risks for developmental, health, emotional, and behavioral challenges. The impact of these experiences and challenges compromises well-being and family stability. NTI seeks to improve these outcomes by infusing enhanced adoption competency in the provision of casework and clinical practice.“We are thrilled to be working with PAFCAF as they spearhead the effort of private provider agencies who have joined the NTI initiative,” said Mary Wichansky, Implementation Specialist with C.A.S.E. “Together with the Department of Social Services, the state is training approximately 600 child welfare professionals. To date, the progress in SC is remarkable with 65 percent % of trainees having completed this valuable training. We anticipate significant positive impact from these efforts.”

The initiative is funded through a five-year cooperative agreement between the Children’s Bureau and C.A.S.E. working alongside the University of Maryland School of Social Work Institute for Innovation and Implementation. The pilot trainings are currently offered in eight states including California, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington.

“The NTI training focuses on trauma informed care, culturally appropriate services, identifying and planning for mental health needs and helping adoptive families build trust and attachment,” said Morgan Ednie, Director of Building Families at Thornwell, one of 21 PAFCAF member organizations taking part in the training initiative. “Thornwell is excited by the opportunity for staff to participate in this comprehensive training, and we trust that the skills gained will allow us to further serve and empower our families as they seek meaningful change.”

The 8 module online curriculum is designed to improve the well-being outcomes for children and families by addressing their mental health needs, previous trauma and providing support and proper therapeutic interventions in culturally appropriate ways. These tactics will assure stable and secure post-permanency experiences for youth and improve family well-being in South Carolina.

The Palmetto Association for Children and Families was created in 1986 to unite the diverse agencies who serve children and families in South Carolina and give them a place to exchange ideas, gain knowledge, and work to address issues related to the quality of care given to children and their families. Member agencies have the ability to serve approximately 3,500 children at any given time. The challenges of caring for these children are great. The Palmetto Association for Children and Families works to promote the best care possible for children.