Health and Family Services Cabinet
New Judicial Training Helps Prepare Social Services Caseworkers for Courtroom; Interactive Training Teaches Basics of Appearing Before Judges
Note to editors and producers: Media are invited to attend training and interview participants. Training is scheduled in Bowling Green at the end of May and in Louisville in June. Please contact Anya Weber at (502) 564-6180 for more information.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 20, 2010) – Kentucky child protective services caseworkers who appear before the court will be more prepared thanks to a newly revamped training on judicial proceedings.
The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) requires the “Judicial Proceedings: Preparation and Participation” course for its Division of Protection and Permanency staff who work with families involved with child protective services cases.
The course was recently redesigned from a basic classroom module to a more interactive concept. Its launch was in Somerset at the beginning of May.
“We listened to staff and recreated this training to be relevant to what actually happens in the different courtrooms,” DCBS Commissioner Patricia R. Wilson said. “In our communities and in families’ homes, we are the eyes of the courts, so it is imperative our staff represent their profession and the children and families appropriately when they appear before a judge.”
Wilson said the training’s reboot was instigated through feedback from department staff who wanted to be more practiced before the court.
“I’m very pleased that this came from our staff’s desire to serve families better,” Wilson said.
The daylong training, led by Judge Stephen “Nick” Frazier, retired family court judge includes videos, group participation and mock trial activities.
Wilson said DCBS leadership invited a select group of Kentucky judges to form a focus group that would shape the course mission and content.
“We told them, we know the value of the courts, and DCBS is working well with the courts, but we want to know what we can be doing better,” she said.
The judges recommended that caseworkers become more familiar with the framework of the courts, but also get more practical, hands-on training so they would be better prepared.
Frazier, who has more than 20 years of courtroom experience, said that in his courtroom experience, two areas where many caseworkers were lacking were “clarity and confidence.” He said he and his co-trainers can strengthen staff’s level of comfort in the courtroom.
Frazier also said that role playing and mock scenarios can lessen the fear a worker may experience when appearing before a judge.
“There is no substitute for confidence,” he said. “It’s a scary proposition to go to court and present before a judge and a roomful of other people. The education process takes away a lot of that anxiety.”
Christian County Family Court Judge Jason Fleming, a member of the focus group, said their training should also focus on DCBS and judges being better prepared to define services available to families.
While we each have our roles within the process, the ultimate goal of both is to protect children and protect the rights of the parents involved,” he said. “It is important for there to be an open dialogue so that everyone understands the duties, restrictions and policies of both groups.”
DCBS has added another new training course for child protection workers – “Special Considerations in Child Sexual Abuse.” This is a two-day class for veteran workers who investigate and provide ongoing services to families affected by child sexual abuse. This training includes an update of documentation tools and prevention actions, including steps to take when victims recant their original statements.
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