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On February 27, Dr. Monique Mitchell and Toni Jones of The Center for Child and Family Studies of the College of Social Work presented at the Child Welfare League of America National Conference in Washington, DC.  The workshop, "National Youth in Transition Database: Youth Voices Advocating for Effective Change," shared how data from the NYTD federally required longitudinal survey of youth in foster care is being used in South Carolina for advocacy efforts and to inform meaningful practice. 

Dr. Mitchell and Ms. Jones also visited South Carolina’s senators and congressmen on Capitol Hill on Advocacy Day to discuss issues relating to youth in care as they transition to adulthood.

Dana DeHart, PhD, has been invited to serve on the editorial board of the Journal of Family Violence. The journal publishes interdisciplinary articles on clinical and investigative efforts concerning all forms of family violence. Clinical and research reports from psychology, sociology, psychiatry, public health, criminology, law, marital counseling, and social work are included in their spectrum of work.

The Center for Child and Family Studies is partnering with the South Carolina Department of Social Services to facilitate the Leadership Academy for Supervisors (LAS). Recognizing that supervisors are key players in improving child welfare outcomes, South Carolina is one of a handful of states to offer this rigorous, state-of-the-art leadership training.

The LAS was developed by the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute. It is an online training curriculum that uses a strengths-based model to develop leadership competencies across all child welfare program areas. Learning modules include:

•    Foundations of Leadership
•    Leading in Context: Building Collaboratives
•    Leading People: Workforce Development
•    Leading for Results: Accountability
•    Leading Systems Change: Goal-Setting

Supervisors can complete the LAS at their own pace. The online training requires 35 hours to complete and includes worksheets and reflective exercises. Periodic face-to-face meetings called Learning Networks supplement the online learning and help build a supportive peer community of supervisors across counties.

Good supervision is a key factor in reducing staff turnover, setting organizational climate and culture, and improving outcomes for children, youth, and families. This initiative supports supervisors as leaders of practice change. As part of the curriculum, each participant identifies a change initiative to implement while learning about managing change in an organization. 

During the course, supervisors gain greater awareness of their own strengths and challenges. The training enables them to enhance teamwork, communication, and collaboration within their units as well as with service providers. Enhanced teamwork and collaboration result in positive outcomes for children and families.

Supervisors and program coordinators in Aiken, Greenville, Oconee, and Spartanburg counties are the first training cohort for this initiative; over time, this training will be available to child welfare supervisors across the state.

The South Carolina NYTD Team is nationally recognized as a leader in the NYTD initiative. The National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) is a data collection system that was created by the Federal Administration for Children and Families to track services funded by the Chafee Independent Living Program (NYTD Services) and to develop outcome measures (NYTD Survey) to assess the state’s performance. This database is a valuable tool in the effort to understand what works and what does not work for youth in foster care. The data will help individual states assess their efforts to prepare youth for the transition to adulthood and will be used to examine national trends related to youth in transition.

In August, the SC NYTD team showcased their data collection procedures and youth engagement strategies at the NYTD Technical Assistance Meeting in Washington, DC. South Carolina was one of only four states (South Carolina, South Dakota, Illinois, and Colorado) invited to be part of the panel “Challenges, Surprises and Successes from the First NYTD Reporting Period” in the main plenary session.

Dr. Monique Mitchell presented South Carolina’s survey instrument and methodology—a CCFS NYTD initiative—in the “Strategies for Improving Your State’s NYTD Youth Outcome Survey Instrument and Methodology” session. Facilitators from the National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology accompanied her. South Carolina was one of only two states with individual presentations.

South Carolina was also one of only two states (South Carolina and Washington) invited to be on the “NYTD as a Youth Empowerment Strategy” session.

Youth from all over the country attended the NYTD TA Meeting to advocate on behalf of youth in foster care and transitioning out of foster care. The purpose of the conference was to help states learn from and support one another as they implement the National Youth in Transition Database.

On June 17, 2011, youth in foster care across South Carolina gathered in Columbia to kick off NYTD, a federal study of the transition from foster care to adulthood. During the SCDSS conference, 367 youth attended workshops on topics such as healthy living, money management, and technology etiquette and safety. They interacted with college admissions counselors from across the state and explored careers at a job fair.

The  J’Ouvert steel band entertained youth and adults during lunch. At the graduate ceremony, 54 youth were honored with a certificate for graduating from high school or an institution of higher learning. Chaundra Fletcher from DSS Lancaster County received the 2011 “Our Champion Award” for being an outstanding caseworker for teens.

Members of GOALL, the SCDSS youth advisory committee, introduced workshop leaders and spoke about life in foster care. The president of GOALL, Faith Slater, delivered the keynote address. Adults who accompanied youth attended some of the same workshops as the youth and learned about NYTD.

NYTD (National Youth in Transition Database) is actually a two-pronged study. The federal government is interested in

  • Tracking the independent living services that youth receive
  • Surveying youth at ages 17, 19, and 21 about their transition to adulthood

The NYTD Team has been raising awareness about the study. At the NYTD Kickoff, Monique Mitchell, Toni Jones, and Terri Pope presented the NYTD workshop for adult participants. Dr. Mitchell and Ms. Jones have been presenting around the state, including at the statewide conference sponsored by the South Carolina Association of Children’s Homes and Family Services in Myrtle Beach in January of 2011.

Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Cynthia Flynn also presented “NYTD, Not Just a Data Collection: Partnering with SCFPA to Enhance Connections for Youth Transitioning out of Care” to the South Carolina Foster Parents Association in Greenville on April 9, 2011.

The NYTD Kickoff is part of the push to improve independent living services for youth in foster care. Improved services should help youth achieve better outcomes once they transition to adulthood.

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