Erica Hunter for Customer Stories Fall Safety Planning Intensive

July 26, 2023

Video Transcript

Speaker: Erica Hunter, Deputy Director for Safety and Thriving Families, Kansas Department for Children and Families

What have you noticed about the practice in your agency since staff from your agency have attended the Safety Planning Practice Intensive?

Erica Hunter: We know that building safety is key to the work that we do uh with the families that we work with. Um And as an agency, uh we were privileged to be able to send a group of people in 2022 to the safety plan, practice intensive. Um And so, you know, when those staff came back, the energy that they had um was just this pure excitement. Um And it was contagious, people were um able to just really articulate all the things that they had seen and done and they could tell us how they were going to actually implement those in their practice as they were going forward. And so it was things that um that excitement that they brought back, they knew that it was possible to do work with the family in a different way. Um And I think that was what was most exciting to them is they knew that sometimes it felt like we were setting families up for failure and they didn't like that. We want to know how we can set families up for success and this really helped them feel like we are going to be able to set families up for success. Uh They wanted to talk about it and share this with so many people. And so we had to help try to find ways for them to do that. But a lot of them just kind of took this back, workers who attended, took it back immediately, started implementing it. Our supervisors came back and they started talking about how do I help my unit understand this, how can I help my office that I work in? Understand this and we saw just great work being done by those people who attended to continue to spread that knowledge that they had gained with them. We started hearing stories in our regions about, you know, just some of the creative things that they'd done. Some of the success that they had had when they were um when they were using these different types of safety plans. And some of them weren't even from the people who had attended. It was just, they had heard about the great things they had learned from other people who had attended and they took it and they ran with it. And I think that's one of the most exciting things that we saw is that it brought back this excitement and this feeling of um I really can help families succeed. And you know what we heard. And I think what is so valuable was sometimes, you know, we were building the safety plans for the families like it was us creating what it was that should have been on that safety plan. But this helped people realize that families can actually build that safety plan themselves. They know what is best. And so it's just that shift, it's that continued shift in um how we're working with our families to know that sometimes our families actually do know best and they can come up with the best plan that would work for them. And that was what we saw brought back. Um, with that, that safety plan practice intensive was really that they gained this understanding of how to build safety plans that were with the family voice to make that family successful.

What would you tell other leaders about the value of sending staff to the Safety Planning Practice Intensive?

Erica Hunter: What I would tell other leaders about the value of sending people to the safety plan practice intensive would be um it's extremely valuable, but I would also say make sure that you are sending people from all levels within your agency. So send your front line workers, send your supervisors and send the people that are to the policy makers and also the people who are making change. Because that was one of the biggest things that we saw that um I don't think we expected was what impact it had on us, sending a few people that are kind of in our more administrative positions and our policy makers. Um you know, one of the things that we had was um kind of a systematic issue that we had been trying to hash out problem solve, work through what are next steps for several months and kind of just felt stuck um on a point where we were defining the problem and the administrator who had attended the safety plan at tens um decided to do words and pictures and so that words and pictures was a game changer for us. It really helped us um identify what the problem was and how we were going to communicate that to others because that was where we also struggled is what is the best way to communicate this complicated problem um That, you know, not everybody understands the language, what we're even talking about. So how do we do that? And that words and pictures became the method in which we can communicate. So we've been able to use that words and pictures to take that to our leadership and say, here's what we're seeing is our problem. Here's where we're going with solutions. And we have heard from our leadership that they praise us for using the tools that we have that we're asking our own staff to use um and being able to use that to communicate that problem. Um And so we've been able to share that with different people so that they can hear the information and they can see how we are using the tools that we have our staff also using. We even see people who've seen that words and pictures. They're in other work groups, they're in other problem solving capacities and they are taking it and they're figuring out how can we use words and pictures and what we're trying to problem solve. So we see it being used um several different times and these are sometimes people who weren't, did not go to that practice intensive and they are just trying to see what they can do. Um And they felt that that was a great way to help explain a problem. So they're using it. So I think that's one of the biggest things for me has just been, um we just assumed we were sending it so people would learn how to safety plan with families. But what some people ended up bringing back was how we can problem solve within our own agency for some of these complex problems that we have had. Um And so that has been one of the biggest things that we have done because we know that we want to continue to model those tools and methods so that, that helps us move that practice forward. And I think finding ways to do that has been extremely helpful um for us as leaders to be able to do that type of work. So, um you know, it's not only um your front line staff, they're gonna learn and take things back, it's also going to be your leader. So I would just encourage you to send people um who are all different levels uh to be able to go and learn about um the safety plan intensive.

Produced with Vocal Video