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TO THE AN EVOLUTION OF PRACTICE IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY CORE PRACTICE MODEL HANDBOOK WHAT IS THE CORE PRACTICE MODEL The Core Practice Model is a deeper way to work with families to improve safety and outcomes for children. It helps children and families build supportive teams that enable them to identify their strengths and underlying needs in a trusting positive environment. These insights become the foundation of more effective action plans for change that are tailored specifically to each child and family and rooted in strong community support. For more information visit www.GetToTheCore.org DEAR COLLEAGUE We are pleased to share this Core Practice Model Handbook to assist you in your work on behalf of children and families in Los Angeles County. The Handbook is a brief reference tool for social workers therapists and other professionals as we continue expanding Core Practice Model CPM implementation countywide. While not a comprehen- sive manual to the CPM the Handbook is intended to be a useful guide with reminders insights and tips to help you make a positive difference for the children families and communities we serve. The Core Practice Model represents a powerful evolution of our child welfare practice to meet childrens underlying needs strengthen families and engage communities. We thank you for your ongoing commitment and dedication to improving our work together. Sincerely Philip L. Browning Director Department of Children and Family Services Robin Kay Acting Director Department of Mental Health HOW TO USE THIS HANDBOOK This handbook is intended to be a useful resource as you carry out the Core Practice Model in Los Angeles County. It is designed to be a convenient and portable resource fitting easily into a purse or jacket pocket. Add your own tips. Use this book as a starter and then mark it up. A well-used book is much better than the original. Share your thoughts. Talk to others about what works for you both in the book and in the world. Build your own community of practice where you can bounce ideas off one another. TABLE OF CONTENTS CORE PRACTICE MODEL OVERVIEW............... 4 BUILDING BLOCKS............................................... 6 SAFETY....................................................................8 UNDERLYING NEEDS...........................................12 STRENGTHS..........................................................14 QUESTIONS TO HELP THE CONVERSATION.....16 TIPS FOR WHEN YOU GET STUCK..................22 HOW AM I DOING..............................................28 CORE PRACTICE MODEL OVERVIEW An evolution of our current practice the Core Practice Model Prioritizes Child Safety while emphasizing strengths over deficits underlying needs over behaviors and empowerment over helplessness. For social workers and other staff the Core Practice Model helps Build Trust with children and families and enables stronger teamwork. For children and families it creates the Opportunity to be Heard and Empowered that is grounded in strong community support. If implemented with fidelity this approach is designed to improve child safety and permanency and provide Hope for Healing and Recovery. 4 5 6 CORE PRACTICE MODEL BUILDING BLOCKS 7 8 SAFETY IN ALL THE WORK WE DO THE SAFETY OF THE CHILD AND FAMILY MUST REMAIN AT THE FOREFRONT. Here are some ways that we focus on keeping chil- dren safe in all elements of the Core Practice Model Transparency and full disclosure. We communicate clearly about worries among the family and the Department. Building our partnership from shared goals helps keep children safe. Teaming with people who know the child youth and family. Building rapport with team members as well as the family means more people are looking out for the children including those who know the safety worries in the family. Building a village and safety net pays off even when we are not around and enables us to develop a deeper understanding of the family. Working the team agenda. The team agenda addresses child safety in multiple areas Non-negotiables make clear that child safety is the bottom line and help the team understand what must happen to keep children safe. 9 Strengths-Worries-Needs. Focusing on strengths gives hope that the youth or family can overcome this challenging time. Moving on to worries allows the entire team to talk about safety worries for the family. Keeping this element in the agenda and sharing the language of worries also makes it more likely that stakeholders will act if they believe the family is unsafe. Finally identifying the underlying needs of children and families enables the team to develop an individualized plan tailored to address them. The plan. The plan should be based on the underlying needs of the family starting with the children. Meeting these underlying needs will improve child safety and family functioning. As part of the plan teams often create a circle of support that gives the family ongoing assistance especially in difficult times. What Could Go Wrong This part of the meeting focuses on the possibilities that could prevent the plan from succeeding. In this section of the meeting the team agrees on how to intervene to keep the child safe. Ongoing engagement and teaming. This allows the worker and team members to track when things go well and when times get tough. Tracking and adapting is central to our work so the ongoing meetings allow the team to deepen their commitment to child safety as well as their ability to support the family after the case is closed. 10 Non-negotiables should be minimal to allow the family team to generate ideas within the brainstorming part of teaming and planning work. CSWs and other staff should know the non-negotiables for each case through consultation with the SCSW and input from any transferring staff ER DI prior worker etc. Adherence to court orders should be a given. The team worker or parent may decide to return to court to get court orders changed but for now the team members must all uphold what the court has ordered for the family. Of particular importance Custody and contactvisitation orders Orders related to Substance Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence 11 When there are no court orders state the safety standards that the agency is going to set. These could include The children cannot be cared for by anyone whose judgment is impaired by the influence of drugs or alcohol The children cannot be left alone without adult supervision The children must be free from physical harm The childrens medical needs must be met for medical condition-related referrals The primary non-negotiable is always the children must be safe. Facilitators should enlist the family and team to support this goal possibly by saying Can we agree that we will respect these non-negotiables and ensure our plan protects the safety of these children UNDERLYING NEEDS Identifying and addressing the underlying needs of children and families is fundamental to our practice. Underlying needs are what drive the behaviors that often worry or challenge us. In many cases challenging behaviors are the symptoms of unmet needs. In order to be effective case plans must be individualized and directly address the needs of a child and family not just the behaviors. 12 WHEN CONFRONTED WITH A CHALLENGING BEHAVIOR ASK YOURSELF WHAT UNDERLYING NEED MIGHT BE AT WORK HERE Needs often revolve around SAFETY children need to feel emotionally and physically safe WELL-BEING children may need to talk about their fears or losses and PERMANENCY children need to know where they will grow up and need to have a family and community they can call home. 13 NEEDS ARE NOT BEHAVIORS AND NEEDS ARE NOT SERVICES. Examples Acting out at school is a behavior. Addressing an undiagnosed learning disability that prompts the behavior may be a need. Counseling is a service. It may help meet a need by giving a child a safe place to express her feelings but counseling itself is not the need. How can we identify underlying needs It all starts with engagement. Be genuinely curious Ask skillful questions and listen with openness these are key to uncovering the strengths and underlying needs of the youth and family. Exploring hunches to reach a shared view is also important. Bear in mind that addressing the underlying needs of a child or youth may require addressing the underlying needs of the family as well. Remember you dont have to have all the answers When we team with youth and families and their supports we can all work to identify underlying needs and brainstorm individualized plans to meet them. By partnering with others to identify and respond to underlying needs families are more likely to enjoy safer and longer-lasting outcomes that help children thrive. 14 A focus on strengths is a fundamental part of the Core Practice Model. For children and families understanding their strengths and capabilities can be an empowering discovery connecting them with resources they can draw upon to bring about change in their lives. One of the best ways to engage and motivate children and families is to remind them of strengths demonstrated in other situations that can be brought into the present circumstance. We are looking for more than superficial strengths we are looking for functional strengths that can be used in service of the goal of child safety. Think back to a time when you were challenged to do something you believed was beyond you but over time you managed to accomplish that very thing. Chances are you were motivated by the encouragement you received from others who inspired you to put your best foot forward and remember what makes you competent and capable. The strengths work in the Core Practice Model mirrors this natural and continuous process. STRENGTHS 15 EXAMPLES When things are better for you and your family what specifically will be different When you have worked through difficult issues in the past what has helped you It sounds as if you have already survived a great deal. What is it about you that makes that possible Was there ever a time when you were just as angry and yet you didnt act out On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your willingness to stop drinking What do you think it would take to raise the number closer to 10 When you think about your own childhood what would you say you do differently or better than your parents 16 QUESTIONS TO HELP THE CONVERSATION QUESTIONS FOR CHILDREN Tell me about your best day ever. What happened that day that was different or better than usual Who was there What was everyone doing Can help identify additional supports Tell me what you were doing. Gets to personal strengths and interests What advice can you give me on how to do my best work with you and your family Tell me what you might be worried about right now. Tell me what you like best about your family. Identifies what we want to keep or re-create Tell me whats going well for you right now. 17 18 QUESTIONS FOR OLDER YOUTH Tell me about what youre best at. How often do you get to do that Are there ways that I can support you in getting more training opportunities freedom to keep doing what you love What are some decisions you get to make on your own right now What decisions if any do you think you should be more or less involved in Establishes a discussion about family voice and choice and opens door to working together on important decisions. You have a lot of responsibility. What would you most like someone to take off your shoulders Tell me how we can best work together. 19 Share with me who you trust the most to give you good advice. Builds to a circle of support. How do you think adults in your life view you What else would you want them to know about you Builds to ways that youth can take control of their relationships and network. What makes you proud If you were to build a team of people to help you who would you put on that team Builds team list and resources. 20 QUESTIONS FOR PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS What do you think your child needs Tell me what your child is looking forward to right now.Take me back to when things were going well. What safety worries does the team have 21 What are some of the things that are difficult for your child right now 22 TIPS FOR WHEN YOU GET STUCK WHEN A FAMILY IS SO ANGRY THAT THEY DO NOT WANT TO PLAN OR TEAM WITH YOU First listen. Hear their perspective reflect back to show you are paying attention and use your best listening skills to help the person or family feel heard. Engagement. Talk quietly and at a pace that is calming not condescending but calming. Find points of agreement ask for ideas and above all have your body language show that you are listening openly. Engagement. Then listen again. Repeat what you heard as the major points and make sure you heard correctly. Empathize with the emotions that are expressed and find ways to reinforce that you can see strengths in the youth or family. I know this must be really frustrating for you and your family. You obviously care a lot about what is happening. Engagement and Assessing Understanding. 23 Let the identification of the childs needs forge common ground. Encourage the family to think about and discuss their childs needs. This will help refocus the conversation on the purpose of your involvement. Engagement and Assessing Understanding When the temperature is a little lower invite the family to think about what help would look like to them. Bring forward some of the worries they have shared and help them envision having help from friends family and professionals in coping with this situation. Teaming. Leave them thinking about a solution. Give people permission to think about it and let you know how it could work for them. Empowering people to make decisions that impact their lives is a key component of the Core Practice Model. Teaming. Remind families they have not failed... they have just been temporarily derailed. Continuing to offer support and empowerment is the key to building trust and allowing people to make their decision in their time is true respect. Keep it going. TIPS FOR WHEN YOU GET STUCK WHEN A FAMILY OR YOUTH TELLS YOU THEY HAVE NO ONE TO INVITE ONTO THEIR TEAM OR THEY ARE TOO EMBARRASSED TO ASK Empathize with how it must feel to wonder if you have any support or anyone you can trust especially in a moment of crisis. Leave room and space for their ideas and thoughts as you speak together. Engagement. Invite reflection When was a time when you did have support or people who would come out for you What was that like Who was there Engagement and teaming. Offer to help parents andor youth reach out to someone where the bridges were burned. Emphasize that you will not share case details but that you will share the family goal and seek some way to get people together for support. Teaming. 24 Make finding supports a part of your offer to help. Teaming can be used to identify ways for children parents and youth to build up a depleted network. Its okay to start with a small team consisting of the individual family and a few professionals and then build up the circle of support. The agencies involved can help as well. 25 Whats your tip 26 WHEN YOU ARE COMPLETELY OVERWHELMEDWITH THE TRAUMA AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE FAMILY Take a deep breath. Oxygen helps. Listen not only for loss but for resilience. Many families tell us of loss and trauma from the past. In telling us these stories they are also sharing what they have survived. Remember that although you and the youth cannot rewrite the past you can help them write the future. With the support of a team that has resources and commitment this may be a turning point for a child youth or family. 27 Create rituals to return to your own real life. When work is done take a moment to center yourself before returning to your life. This can include working out yoga meditation a walk a bike ride music art or poetry. It can even be as simple as taking the long way home to catch sight of something beautiful to you. Remember you are making a difference. Your presence matters and you deserve to take care of yourself and your emotional and physical health at the end of a draining day. This is self-care and will help you as you continue to work with families. Whats your tip 28 HOW AM I DOING WAYS TO SELF-ASSESS MY WORK WITH THIS FAMILY Engaging 4 Did I listen with openness 4 Did I nurture honest dialogue 4 Did I look beneath the childs behavior to identify underlying needs 4 Did I help find and build connections to support the child or youth 4 Did I explore relationships that may impact the childsyouths safety and well-being 4 Did I ensure connection and support Teaming 4 Did I help the family identify and build natural supports 4 Did I honor the familys unique culture community and experience in helping them design their team 3 3 29 4 Did I encourage the team to share thoughtful hunches about the childs needs 4 Did I connect the childfamilyyouth to supports or advocates 4 Did I show the caregiver respect and offer resources to assist them in their role 4 Did I facilitate sharing of important information across all parties Assessment 4 Did I promote self-advocacy and empowerment in finding solutions planning and decision-making 4 Did I listen for loss 4 Did I use the cultural lens to honor the family culture 4 Did I assess the need this childyouthfamily may have for coaching and support 4 Is it possible any biases are impacting this familys service or results 4 Do I understand the link between the family story and the familys current functioning and underlying needs 3 30 Planning Intervention 4 Did I tailor supports to underlying needs 4 Did I help facilitate appropriate supports and services to reach a team solution 4 Did I have a chance to customize the visitation for this family when applicable 4 Did I create an optimal team environment 4 Did I promote recovery and well-being 4 Did I help create shared agreement on culturally sensitive services to address safety well-being and family needs Tracking Adapting 4 What is working now that we should continue or expand 4 What is not working Who should I engage in thinking about changing course 4 How can I empower the team to think about tracking and adapting to make the best and safest plan with this family 3 3 31 NOTES Questions to Ask Others 4 Based on what we have done together so far what do you think is going well in our work What could be improved 4 What advice would you give me about my work with your family 4 What is one thing that I could do better or differently that would help us make our work together stronger 3 32 NOTES TO THE AN EVOLUTION OF PRACTICE IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY GetToTheCore.org