Thursday, October 28, 2010

Performance Management – Striving for Success!

In the field of social work, we all want to succeed in our work with children and families.  But, what is considered “success” for DCS and how is it measured?  The definition of “success” is found in the DCS mission statement, “Our mission is to empower families and support community safety and partnerships to help ensure safety, permanency and well being for children.”  Safety, permanency, and well being…those are the measures of our success.  If we can assist families in achieving those outcomes we have succeeded.

A new initiative is being launched that will assist regional leadership (RA/DRA/TCs) in achieving those outcomes to ensure success.  This initiative is a new performance management process.

So, what is performance management?  Performance management is an ongoing process of communication between a supervisor and an employee that occurs throughout the year in support of accomplishing the strategic goals of an organization.  This process entails setting and aligning goals; coaching and developing employees; providing informal feedback; formally evaluating performance; and linking performance to recognition.  When effectively carried out, performance management helps employees understand the nature and quality of their performance and identify what they need to do to improve as well as inspire them to do so. Most importantly, effective performance management helps employees know that their contributions are recognized and acknowledged, which assists in motivating them towards success.  A robust and effective performance management process will provide a foundation for continuous improvement and achievement of state, regional, and team performance goals, which will translate into success for DCS.

So, what is the purpose of performance management?  The purpose is to improve the quality of supervision, provide more goal-focused professional development, and enhance accountability. In so doing, children and family outcomes will improve since current research suggests that some of the most important factors contributing to improved child and family outcomes are quality supervision, a well-trained workforce, and a system for consistent accountability.

The tools utilized in a performance management process are an important factor in ensuring an effective process that achieves its intended purpose.  The existing performance management tools, such as the Job Performance Plan (JPP), Monthly Performance Briefings (MPB), and Performance Evaluations (PE) are not currently assisting employees in reaching their maximum performance potential or helping regions in achieving their outcomes due to their lack of integration and standardization.  For example, JPPs for the same service position vary from region to region and are not consistent agency-wide; competencies are not standardized to assist supervisors with directing and focusing professional development efforts, and performance goals are not integrated into the performance management process to guide regional, team and individual improvement efforts.  JPPs for direct service positions are being revised to reflect a competency based model, but the goal is that all positions within DCS will have a competency-based JPP.

What we currently possess is not a performance management process but a performance tracking system – a system that looks back at what we have achieved, and records performance.  What is needed is an integrated system that assists supervisors in not just tracking performance, but in recognizing and developing both performance and professional development needs so that the outcomes of permanency, safety and well being can be achieved.  This is how success will be reached.

As a result, the following regions - Davidson, Upper Cumberland, South Central, Northeast, Southwest, and Tennessee Valley - are currently learning how to integrate the existing tools into a comprehensive, competency based performance management process, which is built upon a well-researched frame endorsed by the federal government and by national child welfare experts.  Regional leadership is learning how to systematically use data in order to identify and support regional and organizational performance goals as well as improve child and family outcomes.

We all want to succeed.  A renewed focus on employee performance, outcomes, and the measures needed to track success will assist us all in seeing children reunited with families, achieving timely permanency, and children being maintained safely in their living situations.  Now that is true success!

Kevin Walker
Program Specialist
TCCW - Learning and Staff Development

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Speak Up For Yourself!: Tennessee Youth Forum

WHAT: The Tennessee Youth Leadership Forum is a 4-day leadership training for high school students with disabilities from across the state, sponsored by the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities. Selected Student Delegates will participate in small group discussions, attend presentations by national and local speakers, tour the Capitol and meet with a legislator. The goal is for students to learn to speak up for themselves, to begin giving serious thought to their lives after high school, and to develop skills related to becoming leaders in their communities.
WHEN: early July, 2011
WHERE: on a college campus in Middle Tennessee
COST: training, meals and sleeping rooms are covered by the program. Travel will be reimbursed approximately two weeks after the program.
Students must complete the attached application in its entirety, which also includes essay responses and letters of recommendation. In addition, all applicants will be interviewed by phone or in person as part of the acceptance process. Application deadline is February 1, 2011.
For any other information, or for a hard-copy of the application, please contact:
Ned Andrew Solomon
Director, YLF

No Phone In for October 21 & 22

There is NO PHONE IN this week for resource parents.  Dates of 10/21 and 10/22.  The PHONE IN system is still having technical difficulties.  Please advise ALL YOUR RESOURCE PARENTS today that the system is still down.  ALL Resource Home payments will be generated via TFACTS.

PERSONAL IDENTIFICATION NUMBERS:  PIN letters have been sent to most new resource parents via Fiscal.  However there are some resource parents who have not received  a PIN.  They can call me at 615-253-6906 in order to check if they are on the list here at Central office.  We are still waiting on a updated list from Fiscal of our newest resource parents and their PINs.

Thank you for your continued advocacy for DCS resource families!


Friday, October 8, 2010

NYT: New York Missed or Ignored Signs on Girl Who Died

New York Missed or Ignored Signs on Girl Who Died

A 4-year-old Brooklyn girl who weighed 18 pounds when she died in September appears to have gone months without a visit from child welfare workers assigned to monitor her well-being, despite indications that she could be at risk, New York’s child welfare agency revealed on Tuesday.

“We needed to do more to help,” said John B. Mattingly, the commissioner of children's services. The agency offered a wrenching glimpse into the final months of the girl, Marchella Pierce, whose home care, it said, was “grossly inadequate.” It also found that her mother beat her with a videocassette case for punishment and tied her to a bed “for substantial periods of time.”

In a preliminary report released at a City Council hearing, the agency, the Administration for Children’s Services, provided its most detailed look yet at the events that preceded the death of Marchella, whose bruised and emaciated body was found in her family’s Bedford-Stuyvesant apartment on Sept. 2.

Read more here

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Foster Parents: No October 6 and October 7 phone-ins only

Due to a small glitch in the Phone-in System, FOSTER CARE BOARD PAYMENTS WILL BE MADE DIRECTLY OUT OF TFACTS.  No phone-in is necessary. 

If you have immediate questions, please call your Resource Parent Support worker.

Thanks so much for your patience.