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March 2011Vol. 12, No. 2NCWWI's Leadership Academy Offers Training

Important positive changes are taking place in child welfare systems across the country, many prompted by the work of the Children’s Bureau and supported by the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs). Child welfare leaders are needed to drive these positive system changes, successfully implement evidence-based and evidence-informed practice, and create a culture of accountability. 

Following an extensive resource scan and literature review, the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) developed the Leadership Competency Model and Framework (, which includes four leadership domains (Leading Change, Leading in Context, Leading People, Leading for Results) and five leadership pillars (Adaptive, Collaborative, Distributive, Inclusive and Outcome Focused). The Framework defines competencies for each domain and its related proficiency indicators to create a leadership ladder—from caseworker to supervisor, middle manager, and executive leadership—that can be used to support various personnel-related activities, including performance assessment, career planning, and professional development and training programs.

The Framework also guides the innovative curriculum of the NCWWI Leadership Academy, designed to develop leadership skills for implementation of change through two different training delivery systems:

  • The Leadership Academy for Supervisors (LAS) provides online leadership training to experienced child welfare supervisors who provide direct supervision to frontline workers. Courses are designed so that learners can work at their own pace, coming in and out of the training as their schedule allows, or electing to enroll in only one or two of the modules instead of committing to the entire program. Each module includes case examples and scenarios specific to the role of unit supervisor. The instructional strategy asks supervisors to create a personal leadership development plan and to identify and work on a specific change initiative. Each module is followed by a facilitated peer learning session in which participants can network and discuss what they have learned with other supervisors. The core curriculum is designed to provide a total of 30 contact hours of training and is eligible for certificates of participation and/or Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Currently, four modules are available:
    • Introductory Module
    • Foundations of Leadership
    • Leading in Context
    • Leading People
  • The Leadership Academy for Middle Managers (LAMM) is a holistic training program offered a total of 15 times through 2013, 3 times in each of five paired Federal regions (Denver, Philadelphia, Dallas, Seattle, and New York). Each training serves two to three middle managers from each State in the Region, and Tribal nominees from each region are actively recruited. The program includes:
    • Pretraining activities (phone calls, readings, completion of the web-based introductory module, participation in a webinar, and completion of a leadership assessment)
    • Identification of a change initiative as the centerpiece of the residential training and for implementation afterward
    • A 5-day residential program
    • Peer networking and web-based activities for additional leadership subject matter and support to participants as they implement their change initiatives

These learning experiences are opportunities for middle managers and supervisors to develop their leadership competencies and to contribute to sustainable systems change in child welfare.

For more information about the NCWWI Leadership Academy, please visit the website:

You may also contact Nancy S. Dickinson, M.S.S.W., Ph.D., NCWWI Project Director, at

Contributed by Sara Munson, M.S.W., NCWWI National Dissemination Coordinator