Grand Marais—The North Shore Health Care Foundation (NSHCF) board has approved a request from Cook County Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) director Josh Beck and his supervisory team for funds to support front line staff. County staff that work with the most at-risk members of our community need support and training. This grant will enhance the quality of services by providing the following staff training opportunities: Signs of Safety, Forensic Interview Training and Person-Centered Training, as well as a facilitated peer support group.
Signs of Safety is a strengths-based, safety-organized approach to child protection. The focus of the framework is building partnerships with parents and children and dealing with the issues of maltreatment. In a case of suspected maltreatment, the investigation of risk is expanded to encompass strengths and build upon Signs of Safety. This approach is used internationally and demonstrated success for child protection workers throughout the world.
The First Witness Forensic Interview Training provides enhanced education to professionals investigating allegations of child abuse. The course is designed for law enforcement officers, social workers, prosecutors, child protection attorneys and forensic interviewers. Staff will learn about child development, memory, legal issues and testifying in court through a combination of lecture, discussion, recorded interviews and an interview practicum. Twelve members of the Cook County PHHS Multi-Disciplinary team—including four social workers—will attend the course. Grant funds will allow Cook County to host the training, thus reducing time/travel costs for local participants.
Person-Centered Training incorporates both person-centered thinking and planning. Person-centered thinking focuses on the “now” and promotes service planning that empowers people who receive services. Five employees will attend the first section of the person-centered training.
Another part of the grant will support staff development and retention through ongoing trauma informed care training. Investing in the education of Cook County employees related to trauma-based care will in turn benefit each individual who requests or receives services
It is widely known that human services staff experience high rates of secondary traumatic stress and burnout from high workloads. Secondary traumatic stress can manifest itself in significant emotional, physical and personal ways. Part of the grant will allow the agency to bring in an outside mental health practitioner to facilitate an internal peer support group. Staff members will be able to speak freely about concerns they may be having with general job and casework stressors.