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Haywood County families at risk for child abuse or neglect may get a higher level of in-home support from the Haywood County Department of Social Services, thanks to an $18,400 grant received from the Evergreen Foundation.

 

The funds, which were announced in December, are being used to implement a training model called the Haywood County DSS In Home Coaching Initiative, which provides extensive training and case consultation to the Child Protection Services staff over the next year, with the overall goal of reducing the number of children who have to be removed from their parents or guardians and placed in foster care.

 

During a two-year period between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2010, DSS had worked with 66 families who had each had more than one abuse/neglect finding. Of those 66 families, 40 had children removed from their home and into foster care. By providing more intensive in-home services and support for families, Ira Dove, Haywood County DSS director, hopes to see that number go down.

 

“The services we needed to support families were just not available,” said Dove. “We needed something that allowed us to do more with the families before it came to removing children from homes.”

 

The Evergreen grant funds have enabled DSS to contract with Dan Schultz, a licensed clinical social worker and child welfare consultant to provide ongoing training and case consultation with the Child Protective Services staff through the remainder of 2011. The process kicked off in January with an initial six-day training course called Family Support in Practice: Connecting with Families and has continued with weekly training and case work.

 

“We are working with families where there have been findings of abuse or neglect and when a ‘services needed’ status was found,” said Dove. “The in-home services provided through the program are designed to provide families with healthy, effective communication skills, problem solving techniques and coping behaviors.”

  

“What we’re doing closely models a new direction that the state is going toward,” said Dove. “It’s more of a coaching model that is more respectful of the families, and includes a very focused time with the family that’s designed to bring a turn around in behavior in very short order.”

 

Schultz said the emphasis of the training initiative is to create positive behavior change in parents and families. 

 

“Caseworkers will support parents’ use of effective, appropriate parenting methods,” Schultz said. “Parents will be encouraged to practice these methods during the home visit where the caseworker can assist the parent and reinforce the continued use of the methods. It’s an evidence-based approach which is very action-oriented and supportive of parents.” 

 

While the grant funding for training runs out in December, Dove said he expects that DSS will still be in the midst of evaluating and implementing the model for longer that the grant will cover. To make sure they are able to continue with the model after the funding is gone, Dove said they’ve been taking steps now to implement the model without additional grant funding.

 

“We’re not looking at this as pilot funding; we’re doing this project as part of our regular work and using our own clerical staff,” Dove said. “We’re trying to make this part of our core practice without becoming grant dependent.”

 

For more information, please contact the Haywood County DSS at 828-452-6620.

 

For more information, contact:
David Teague,
Public Information Officer
Haywood County
828-452-7305; 828-400-9691 or
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