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May 2016Vol. 17, No. 3Competency-Based Workforce Development

The National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) published a report on the use of competency models to help guide agencies in the recruitment, selection, preparation, and retention of child welfare professionals. Competency models focus on the knowledge, skills, abilities, behaviors, and other key characteristics an individual needs to be successful in particular jobs at different levels, such as caseworker, supervisor, and manager.

The report describes the benefits of using a competency-based approach in recruiting staff, which include the following:

  • Provides clarity by setting clear expectations about the knowledge, skills, and attitudes relevant for a particular job
  • Offers consistency by articulating a common framework and language for communicating and implementing a workforce development system
  • Supplies connectivity to workforce development components such as education and professional preparation, recruitment, screening, job descriptions, and training, as well as a connection from behaviors to outcomes and from the present to a desired future state

The report gives a brief history of competency-based approaches, discusses competencies within a workforce development framework, and details a workforce development framework developed by NCWWI to address the specific issues related to child welfare work. The report also provides a comparison of competency models currently in use in child welfare agencies across the country and discusses next steps and implications for agencies, such as the following:

  • Convene a workgroup and select a model.
  • Adapt the model to the agency.
  • Disseminate the model and integrate into all agency aspects (e.g., recruitment, performance management).
  • Monitor the use of the model and make modifications as necessary.

Access Competency-Based Workforce Development: A Synthesis of Current Approaches, by Charmaine Brittain and Freda Bernotavicz, on the NCWWI website at (514 KB).