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Launched in 2010, Children’s Corps is a unique program that strengthens and enhances the child welfare system through its comprehensive approach of 1) strategic recruitment and selection; 2) intensive pre-service training; and, 3) ongoing, support to its members and partner agencies.

“[The Corps Member] is a pleasure to work with. She fully understands what it means to work with families and go the extra mile, just for minimal change, which we hope will make a lasting change within the family dynamics.”
~Agency Supervisor
Children’s Corps selects undergraduate/graduate level individuals and career changers into its two-year program; provides a comprehensive pre-service training; places them in caseworker/case planner and social work/clinical positions within child welfare agencies; and continuously builds and supports the skills of the members as well as the agencies’ veteran staff.

Children’s Corps members make a two-year commitment in order to provide stability and continuity to the families they serve. The child welfare agency in turn provides a full salary, benefits, and job security. Children’s Corps greatly increases children and families’ chances for success by infusing the system with professionals who are dedicated, consistent, and well trained.
The Children’s Corps mission is to:
  1. Support the frontline and improve caseworker retention
  2. Improve opportunities and outcomes for children & families
  3. Create future leaders in child welfare
Children’s Corps began its first cohort of 23 members in 2011 and now places 40-50 new members each year in preventive, foster care and residential programs across New York City and Westchester. Alumni continue to affect change through a variety of professional tracks including: clinical, policy, legal, agency administration, and social entrepreneurship. Many pursue graduate degrees. Others continue working, often with promotions in their agency.

“We notice that our Children’s Corps members excel in a number of critical areas. They are resilient, outspoken, risk takers, good at self-regulating in challenging situations and incredible advocates for children and families.”
~Agency Administrator

The Children’s Corps Approach

Children’s Corps uses a 3-pronged approach to enlist, prepare, and sustain high quality workers.
  1. Recruitment & Selection: Children’s Corps developed and uses a set of 14 competencies to measure an individual’s suitability for the frontline worker position. Our staff is trained in competency-based screening, which we use during our application and interview processes. By recruiting individuals who meet our core competencies, Children’s Corps ensures its members possess the innate characteristics necessary for high quality work and retention.

  2. Pre-Service Training: The 4-week Children’s Corps Summer Training Academy at Columbia School of Social Work is comprehensive and intensive, and builds foundational skills to prepare for child welfare work. Training includes shadowing at the agencies and dynamic classroom learning led by experts in the field.

  3. On-Going Support: Children’s Corps provides on-going support through:
    • Monthly gatherings that offer further training as needed and opportunities to process some of the challenges and successes of the work.
    • An online resource/discussion group for members to ask questions and share ideas and resources related to child welfare work. Members have found this group to be beneficial to their work and they often share the resources with their supervisors and co-workers.
    • Individual meetings with Children’s Corps staff to assess members’ well-being.
    • Access to mentoring and coaching by Children’s Corps staff or an outside professional mentor.

The Impact of Children’s Corps

Children’s Corps retention rates are consistently higher then the local child welfare system and improving each year.

Annual first year retention rates:
  • Children’s Corps = 86%
  • New York City = 60%
Any given year, Children’s Corps has between 65-80 members serving and impacting the lives of over 1,000 children in New York City. Children’s Corp members are strong, creative and dedicated advocates who strive to ensure safety, well-being and permanency solutions for children involved in the child welfare system.

“I am truly enjoying my experience with [the Corps member]; she is truly an impetus for change. Thank you for all that you do for families, children and human service practitioners.”
~Agency Supervisor
Children’s Corps constantly collects data to assess the members’ experiences and needs. This information is used to inform the program on how to customize training and support. Children’s Corps also uses this information to provide feedback to individual agencies and the larger system about frontline workforce patterns and conditions. Program staff meet with agency administrators and managers at least once a year to share feedback, which has been valuable in supporting overall workforce development.

Future Growth

Children’s Corps constantly looks for places to grow and improve in order to best serve the needs of the child welfare system. The program seeks to work with more agencies and expand to other sites nationally.

If you are interested in learning more or becoming a partner, please contact Liv Anna Homstead, Director of Programs, at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).