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June 2009Vol. 10, No. 5Site Visit: Training on Transitioning Youth

A new curriculum for Kentucky's child welfare supervisors and workers is designed to enhance their knowledge and skills in their work with youth aging out of the child welfare system. The curriculum, "Time Is Ticking: Tools for Transitioning Youth," was developed by the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville to address the needs of the 300 to 400 Kentucky youth who age out of foster care each year. These youth have special needs related to crisis management, relationship formation, education, employment, housing, and other basic functions of daily living.

The curriculum is based on a literature review of evidence-based practices as well as input received from an advisory board and from focus groups with youth, foster parents, workers, supervisors, private providers, and community partners. The modules of the curriculum focus on four core elements:

  • Youth development
  • Cultural competency
  • Permanent connections
  • Collaboration

Training with the curriculum is delivered over 2 days to supervisors and their workers, with an additional half day of training for supervisors. To date, the program has provided training sessions statewide to supervisors and workers in the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS); community partners from the mental health, substance abuse, and education fields; and private providers and foster parents. The partners' involvement in the training encouraged cross-system collaboration and helped participants make connections in their communities and across the State.

In addition to trainings offered in seven of the nine regions in the State, the program held a statewide Youth Summit titled "Climbing Mount O.L.Y.M.P.U.S." (Offering Louisville Youth Meaningful Participation through Unified Services). Workshops at the summit presented the curriculum's four modules, with additional workshops for those who had already attended the training. Several activities held during the summit focused on creating a shared youth vision in Kentucky by identifying ways to strengthen coordination, communication, and collaboration among youth-serving agencies.

More than 550 people have completed the training, including 200 participants in the statewide summit and 60 participants in "train the trainer" sessions to prepare them to deliver the training in their communities. Preliminary results from satisfaction surveys and pre- and posttest surveys indicate improvements in the knowledge and skills of participants. The CHFS plans to continue delivering the curriculum to supervisors, workers, and foster parents. Program staff also plan to enhance the curriculum with a syllabus, readings, and exercises so it may be eligible for M.S.S.W. education credits.

Four free courses developed by the project are now available to the public. Topics include "Dating Violence," "Motivational Interviewing," "Mentoring," and "Reconnecting With Birth Parents." Visit the program's website to view the courses:

[Editor's note: This link is no longer available.] 

For more information, contact the principal investigator:
Anita Barbee, Ph.D.
Kent School of Social Work
University of Louisville
Louisville, KY 40292

The full site report can be found the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:

Evidence-Based Supervisor-Team Independent Living Training is funded by the Children's Bureau, Grant 90CW1134, under the Children's Bureau Priority Area: Training of Child Welfare Agency Supervisors in the Effective Delivery and Management of Federal Independent Living Service for Youth in Foster Care. This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from Children's Bureau site visits.