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March 2021Vol. 22, No. 3NCWWI Communications Guide

The National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) released a communications guide that aims to help improve the way child welfare agencies and organizations disseminate information in an effort to build public support, strengthen the workforce, improve partnerships, increase community collaboration, and enhance perceptions.

The guide focuses on the following topics:

  • Positive impacts of communication and public relations efforts for child welfare programs. It is important for the general public and community organizations to have a better understanding of how the child welfare system works so they can possibly reshape their perceptions and realize that child welfare professionals work daily to prevent child abuse and strengthen families; provide critical care during a family crisis, often at a moment's notice; partner with other stakeholders to provide preventive services to the most vulnerable families in the community; are key partners with community groups, government agencies, universities, and others working to improve programs and practices; and enhance the educational preparation of the workforce.
  • Examples of how to shift the narrative about child welfare programs. The pervasive narrative surrounding child welfare workers centers on the tragedies they are involved in rather than the primary prevention practices and strategies they engage in with the vulnerable families in their care. To change this narrative, it is important to articulate both the new narrative and the existing, dominant one; share the new narrative with a large and varied audience through websites, social media, infographics, and videos as well as at post offices using posters; track these efforts; and assess whether the new narrative has been put into practice and widely adopted. 
  • Strategies to develop messaging that will resonate with audiences. Crafting messages that will resonate with the intended audience will enable agencies and organizations to consistently demonstrate the program's vision and values. These messages should include conversational explanations of what the program is and who it is intended for; data on the number of families and children served by the program and where they reside; quotes from families or stakeholders that demonstrate impact; the program's vision and goals for the future; and information on key partnerships and programs that help achieve the program's goals.
  • Suggested channels and products to get the word out. Agencies and organizations should determine where the intended audience gets its information (e.g., social media, websites, the news media) as well as the timeliness and format of dissemination (e.g., infographics, graphics, factsheets, video).

To read more about the importance of communication in changing the narrative surrounding child welfare work, read NCWWI Communications Guide: How to Advance Organizational Goals Through Effective Messaging, Storytelling, and Public Relations.