Case Study

Designing, Developing, and Implementing Child Welfare Practice Standards for Caseworkers, Supervisors, and Leaders in North Carolina


Public Knowledge®’s (PK) work with the North Carolina Division of Social Services began with the goal of implementing a new practice model. Our firm recommended developing the practice standards first to serve as the foundation for implementing their practice model. North Carolina did not have behavior measures for caseworkers, supervisors, and leaders and decided it would be more appropriate if we started there.

Graphic descripting structure for North Carolina Division of Social Services Practice Standard creation


North Carolina and its Unified Leadership Team needed support and guidance. They identified and defined their state’s essential functions of child welfare practice. PK then guided this team and related design teams through the development of processes and meeting facilitation. Our approach began by soliciting input and feedback on the further definition and behavioral description of those essential functions and subsequent practice standards through stakeholder input from caseworkers, supervisors, and leaders across the state. PK also solicited input from partners such as kinship, foster families, youth with lived experience in foster care, private providers, and other community stakeholders to develop child welfare practice standards. From this process, PK began the development of practice standards in partnership with North Carolina.

Problem Statement

Our expertise in child welfare practice models, organizational change management, and training development and implementation allowed us to provide a customized implementation plan for these practice standards, which included training, communications, and transfer of learning activities developed specifically for the agency’s needs.


Practice Standards Creation

The North Carolina leadership team and stakeholders created the practice standards. Supported by the PK project team, it resulted in practice standards reflecting the work they want to accomplish in the child welfare industry. These practice standards were created with input from those with a diverse group of professional stakeholders who worked in the organization and were well-acquainted with their work, reflecting their organization and culture.

Training Development

Our approach involved creating training for all levels within the agency; child welfare workers, supervisors, and leadership. The curriculum for each role is tailored to the unique situations they face. Doing so increases learner retention and helps build confidence in their positions while creating safe spaces to make mistakes and learn from them. Additionally, the training curriculum was developed and delivered to “Practice Standards Champions”, which focused on transferring knowledge and sustainability to the workforce as part of the implementation plan.


PK created a multi-faceted implementation plan to diversify the messaging and tailor it to different audiences to assist in gradual, lasting change. Our firm produced webinars, eLearning, newsletters, and guides to support staff as they were undergoing training. We customized the implementation approach to be feasible for staff and set them up for success, controlling the flow of information to allow the staff time to comprehend it. Additionally, we developed self-assessment tools, driving an evaluation model.  

“The video was done well and kept my interest.  I like the video and the quiz questions kept my interest.  I found it fun to watch and complete the questions!”


Creating customized training for child welfare workers, trainers, and leadership in North Carolina will directly impact the experience of children and families. Equipping the staff with the right tools assists them in navigating the complex situations they work in.

“This course helped me to identify way to engage the parents into partnering [with] the agency…”

The practice standards served as the foundation for the practice model. Achieving positive change in a vast system with numerous employees demands substantial and intricate modifications. PK leveraged their proficiency, resources, and abilities to pave the way for enhanced practices.


Our firm’s comprehensive approach is significant to health and human service agencies. We develop practice standards, practice models, and customized training. Additionally, we assist in its implementation. We provide complete support when implementing agency-wide changes and provide the resources to ensure success. Our custom learning development and implementation science methods will help to create sustainable change in North Carolina. Combined with significant child welfare expertise, it positions our clients for success.

Positive Outcomes Delivered.

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