Professional Fields

Child Welfare

The Center for Strength-based Strategies (CSBS) has been active to import the Strengths Approach into the fields of Child Welfare and Child Protective Services. In this mandated field, the strengths and resources of the clients are often bypassed and ignored.

We have called the parent and family into ascendancy in the mission of ensuring the safety of all family members. We believe that the two populations most besieged in our field are the families involved in child welfare services and agency staff that work with them.

When most child welfare professionals first hear about the Strengths perspective their usual reaction is two-fold: That this approach makes good sense and is straightforward. Why then, is a technical assistance necessary? Our child welfare field has been inundated with over forty years of research and practice from the deficit model. We seek to offer child welfare agencies a roadmap to a Strengths orientation. This guide is necessary as it is often hard to see the child abuser or fail-to-protect parent as anything but their “labels” or to see the environment in which they live in as wellsprings of resources rather than zones of impoverishment. Negative situations seem to cry out for negative explanations—we want know what is wrong when so little seems right.

Some Important Resources to Begin With

For child welfare:

Berg, Insoo K. & Kelly, Susan. (2000) Building Solutions in Child Protective Services. NY: WW Norton

For child protective services:

Turnell, Andrew. & Edwards, Steven. (1999) Signs of Safety: A Solution and Safety Oriented Approach to Child Protection. NY: WW Norton

For both disciplines:

(October, 2004) Clark, Michael D., “The Child Welfare Contribution of Proximity and Balance” Connections. Journal of the National Association of Social Workers-Michigan Chapter. Vol. 28(9). 19.
Click here to download the full article

(2001) Clark, Michael D., “Change-Focused Youth Work: The Critical Ingredients of Positive Behavior Change” Journal of the Center for Families, Children & the Courts, Vol. 3, 59-72.
Click here to download the full article

(December 2000) Clark, Michael D., “The Truth about Addiction.” American Bar Association - Child Law Practice Journal –, 19(10), 145-152.
Click here to download the full article

Here is an article from the Social Work journal that speaks to working with mandated clients:
(1997) Clark, Michael D., “Withstanding ‘Friendly Fire’: A Frontline Reply to O’Hare” Social Work, 42(2), 203-204.
Click here to download the full article

Clark, Michael D., (Forthcoming) “Motivational Interviewing for Child Welfare: Motivation, Change Talk & Positive Outcomes” Juvenile & Family Court Journal – Juvenile & Family Court Judges Association, Reno, Nevada

The CSBS has established training for child welfare, both in Strength-based practice and Motivational Interviewing. On site technical assistance has been delivered to county government departments and private profit/non-profits agencies, both large and small, urban, metro and rural.

New efforts include a list of “integration efforts” that the CSBS has compiled from observing agencies that have done an above-average job of implementing a Strengths Perspective within their organization. From this qualitative, single-subject research conducted by our Center with department/agency for Strength-based Strategies, Supervisors and Administrators were observed focusing on and placing effort towards six (6) specific issues. Following staff/administrator training, we suggest a follow-up with managers and supervision to review this list of “best practices” for agency/department integration.

Contact us for more information.

Where We've Been in Child Welfare and Child Protective Services

Selected (partial) listing of previous clients of the Center for Strength-Based Strategies. Keynote addresses highlighted in bold type.

Univ. of California-Davis – The Center for Human Services, Child Welfare Consultation with Shasta County Child Welfare Department, 4 days of onsite consultation with consultant report
, Calif.

Idaho Department of Health & Welfare – Region II Children’s Mental Health Council, “Adolescent Development Issues for Foster Parents”

Butler County Commissioners Forum on Families and Children, Butler County Family and Children First Council, “Strengths Training for Staff Working With Challenging Youth”
, Ohio

Univ. of California-Davis – The Center for Human Services, Child Welfare Training, “The Strengths Approach for Mandated Clients”
San Rafael
, Calif.

Idaho Department of Health & Welfare and the Idaho Child Welfare Research & Training Center, Eastern Washington University—Idaho Systems of Care Conference 2005 “Strength-based Practice in Child Welfare”
, Idaho

The Children’s Partnership – Systems of Care Wraparound Summit for Children and Families, keynote address: “Strength-Based Strategies”
Austin, Texas

Children’s Mental Health Council & Kootenai Medical Center – North Idaho Behavioral Health Program, 2 day training program: “Strength-Based Strategies”
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Sommerset County Local Management Board, first 2 day training in series: “Motivational Interviewing I: Bypassing Resistance-Evoking Positive Behavior Change”
Princess Anne, Maryland

Children’s Hospital of Michigan, full day training, “A Strength-Based Approach” and “Motivational Interviewing”
Detroit, Michigan

National Association of Social Workers – West Virginia Chapter, 2004 Spring Conference, Keynote Address: “Motivating Challenging Clients” and following workshop: “Motivational Interviewing”
Charleston, West Virginia

Univ. of California-Davis – The Center for Human Services, 2 day workshops: “Strengths Training for Child Welfare Work ”
Auburn, Calif.
Loomis, Calif.
Sacramento, Calif.
Davis, Calif.
Redding, Calif.
Eureka, Calif.

Univ. of California-Davis – The Center for Human Services, 1 day Management workshops: “Supervising for Strength-Based Practice”
Eureka, Calif.
Redding, Calif.
Rocklin, Calif.

US Department of Health, Office of Minority Health and Central State University of Ohio – Family and Community Violence Prevention Program, 2 day workshop: the Strength-based Approach
Wilberforce, Ohio

Columbia County Commission on Children and Families, Series of three trainings: Strength-based Strategies and Motivational Interviewing
St. Helens, Oregon

New York Department of Social Services-Orange County, 2 day workshop: Strength-based Training for Sexually-abused Children and Families.
Middletown, New York

California Department of Health & Human Services – County of Placer, 2 day training: Strength-based Training for Working with Challenging Clients—Adults and Youth.
Loomis, California

Child Abuse Council –State of Michigan, Children’s Trust Fund & North Central Michigan College, Keynote: Adolescent Development and Substance
Petoskey, Michigan

Pejaro Valley Prevention Services, 2 day training: Motivational Interviewing
Watsonville, California

Youth Services of Freemont County, 2 day training: Strengths Training for Youth and Family Staff
Lander, Wyoming

21st Annual Michigan Statewide Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, Plenary Address: From High-Risk to High-Yield: Using Strength-based Practice to Raise Motivation
Ypsilanti, Michigan

Washington County Community Partnership – 4th Annual Summit, Keynote Address: High Risk to High-Yield-Raising Motivation with Strength-based Strategies
Hagerstown, Maryland

Wicomico County Partnership for Families & Children, 2 day training in Strength-based Practice
Salisbury, Maryland

Muskegon Community College – Early Childhood Conference, Keynote address, “High-Risk to High-Yield with Strength-based Practice”
Muskegon, Michigan