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April 2011Vol. 12, No. 3Supporting Staff After a Child Welfare Crisis

In order to help child welfare workers deal emotionally with a child fatality or other work-related crisis, the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NYSPCC) developed a crisis debriefing program to respond to the needs of CPS workers in New York City. An article in the Fall 2010 APSAC Advisor (from the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children), by Mary L. Pulido and Janine M. Lacina, describes the Restoring Resiliency Response (RRR) debriefing protocol and how it can be implemented in counseling sessions with workers after a crisis.

The RRR focuses on workers' stress reactions after a traumatic event rather than on discussing the details of the case. Sessions are led by a clinical team, which is trained to offer grief and loss counseling and to focus on activities that validate workers' reactions to the crisis, identify supports, and demonstrate coping and relaxation strategies. Handouts on coping and self-care may be shared, and group exercises may be used.

The article describes the use of RRR with nine workers distraught over the murder of a child and the child's mother by the child's father. The RRR session allowed the workers to focus on coping and on the positive impact of their work. Evaluation data of the RRR protocol, based on responses from 578 workers, indicates that a majority of workers found it very helpful after a crisis and would recommend it to fellow workers.

To read the full article, "Supporting Child Protective Services (CPS) Staff Following a Child Fatality and Other Critical Incidents," visit the NYSPCC website: (185 LB)