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April 2008Vol. 9, No. 3Preparing Tomorrow's Leaders

Faced with potential leadership gaps as baby boomers in management positions approach retirement, many child welfare agencies are seeking strategies to improve their ability to promote workers from within the ranks of their agency. A recent article in Children's Voice magazine addresses these issues by highlighting leadership-building strategies being developed in agencies across the country.

Internal training and promotion programs can help agencies preserve institutional knowledge, promote agency growth, and reduce reliance on outside recruitment. In keeping with these goals, the Parsons Child and Family Center in Albany, NY, developed the Leadership Academy, an internal program in which selected staff members receive management training in preparation for leadership roles in the organization. Participants engage in class discussions and prepare written assignments that study the organization on three levels: departmental, agency, and future. The program also provides "stretch opportunities" that expose staff to the structure and services of other parts of the organization and encourage staff to build business relationships across departments.

According to the Children's Voice article, the Parsons' plan for leadership development suggests agencies can effectively address future leadership gaps by:

  • Estimating the rate of retirement across all current leadership and planning accordingly
  • Involving a wide variety of staff in the planning process
  • Individualizing plans to the specific features of the organization

The article outlines the Parsons blueprint for leadership development and also describes the efforts of two other agencies in creating similar succession management and leadership development programs.

The full article, "Promoting From the Ranks" by Jennifer Michael, can be found in the Jan/Feb 2008 issue of Children's Voice. Read recent issues of the magazine on the Child Welfare League of America's website: