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Course Descriptions

The following are courses offered through the Child Welfare Academy. Expand the row to read an overview of each course.

  • SKILS

    SKILS (Standards, Knowledge and Insight Leading to Success) is the mandated core training that all newly hired Protective Services Specialist (PSS) Is/IIs receive upon hire with the Office of Children's Services (OCS).

    SKILS consists of 3 courses: SKILS 161 (2 weeks), SKILS 162 (2 weeks) and SKILS 163 (2 weeks).

    SKILS 161

    SKILS 161 starts with an orientation to child protection, the OCS Practice Model and Intake. Initial Assessment and Safety Planning are the focus for the majority of the week.  Competency based training with specific emphasis on interviewing, information collection, safety threats and risk factors, analysis and assessment is covered. The following week focuses on Family Services practice delivery once a case is opened for ongoing services due to safety threats or high risk of abuse or neglect to a child within his/her own home.  Permanency goals, behaviorally based case planning, conditions for return home, and case closure are the covered.

    SKILS 161 Annotated Agenda

    SKILS 162

    After PSSs have spent time in the field, they return to CWA to attend SKILS 162 to continue their learning. SKILS 162 builds on their experience working with children and families and deepens their knowledge by covering specialized topics such as trauma informed care, historical trauma, domestic violence, substance use disorders, worker safety, ICWA, case planning and evaluation, mental health, separation, loss and grief, placement stability, planning for family contact, working with youth in transition, and self-care and worker resilience.

    SKILS 162 Annotated Agenda

    SKILS 163

    After time spent in the field, PSSs return again to CWA for SKILS 163. This course includes 1 week of training at CWA covering advanced topics such as reflections from the field, cultural humility, brokering services and teaming, quality assurance and continuous quality improvement, ethics and advocacy, working with children with challenges, and an advanced legal day. PSSs return to their offices for the sixth and final week of SKILS training where PSSs attend a tailored course designed to meet the unique needs of each locale.

    SKILS 163 Annotated Agenda

  • SSA Training

    SSA (Social Services Associate) Training is a 5 day training for workers who have been hired as OCS Social Services Associates statewide. This training is an introduction to the OCS Practice Model and includes pertinent topics to enhance working with children and families. Throughout the training, there is a deliberate focus on the various ways SSAs support casework provided by the Protective Services Specialists. Understanding and practicing how to supervise family contact is also emphasized.

    SSA Training is hosted 1-2 times per calendar year as needed depending on the request of OCS.

    SSA Annotated Agenda

  • Child First™ Alaska

    Child First Alaska LogoChildFirst™Alaska is a joint effort by the State of Alaska Office of Children's Services, The Alaska Children's Alliance, The State of Alaska Department of Public Safety, the State of Alaska Department of Law, The University of Alaska Anchorage Child Welfare Academy, Child Advocacy Center staff and Multidisciplinary Team members. 

    The mission of ChildFirst™Alaska

    "The child is our first priority. Not the needs of the family. Not the child's "story". Not the evidence. Not the needs of the court. Not the needs of police, child protection, attorney's etc... The child is our first priority!" 

    ChildFirst™ is the forensic interview training program of the Gunderson National Child Protection Training Center, a child abuse training facility, headquartered at Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota. Its purpose since 2003, is to assist states in developing certified forensic interview training programs in cases of child abuse and to assist those participants and interviewers in defending their interviews and work product in court. The ChildFirst™ forensic interviewing protocol brings the field into the classroom, enhancing the education of front-line child abuse professionals. This course is designed for investigative teams of law enforcement officers, child protection workers, prosecutors, child protection attorneys and forensic interviewers. Students receive training on the ChildFirst™ forensic Interview Protocol, child development, memory and suggestibility, testifying in court, legal issues and preparing children for court. This training incorporates lecture and discussion, review of electronically recorded interviews, skill-building exercises and an interview practicum. This protocol has been specifically recognized and approved by many appellate courts throughout the country. 

    The five-day course is intensive and rigorous and includes homework assignments, a critiqued mock forensic interview for every participant and culminates in a written, proctored examination. Successful participants will receive a Certificate of completion. 

    Alaska's rate of child sexual assault is six times the national average. Due to our vast and difficult terrain, law enforcement and child protection workers have many challenges in responding to child abuse reports. The majority of our communities are located in areas with very limited access which is weather dependent. It is critical that there are trained child forensic interviewers throughout the state. The ChildFirst™model was selected because it fits the culture and children of the state and has been proven to be more conducive to holding individuals accountable for the crimes they commit against children. The protocol guidelines are intertwined throughout the interview, but most importantly, the cultural aspect of Alaskan children is respected and this respect plays a major role in how the interview is conducted. 

    For more information, visit: www.childfirstalaska.org

  • KWYA AK

    Tribal State Collaboration Group LogoKWYA-AK (Knowing Who You Are-AK) provides a framework for participants to identify and explore racial and ethnic identity and to understand how one's race and ethnicity impacts both personal and professional interactions. The three-part process includes completing a pre-workshop Participant Handbook (about 2-4 hours); watching a short video of youth, caregivers, and child welfare workers about their perspective on the importance of this work (24 minutes); and attending and participating in the two-day workshop. KWYA is open to State and Tribal child welfare workers, child advocates, foster parents, juvenile justice staff, teachers and other educators, law enforcement, service providers and other community partners.

    During the Tribal State Collaboration Group (TSCG) meetings in 2008, the State of Alaska's Office of Children's Services (OCS), Tribal partners and Tribal organizations committed to train all State and Tribal child welfare workers under the same process called Know Who You Are (KWYA). TSCG recognized that a component of helping youth in care be successful was for youth to be able to develop and maintain a healthy racial and ethnic identity.

    The KWYA curriculum, originally designed by Casey Family Programs (CFP), is a model used in many states. CFP supported Alaska in creating a diverse team of facilitators and certifiers in order to build the self-sustained program it is today. CFP retired the KWYA curriculum at the end of 2015 and has graciously allowed Alaska to continue using KWYA; which also provided Alaska's Steering Committee with the opportunity to make Alaska-specific adaptations to the curriculum.

    For more information, visit: www.kwya-ak.org

  • Supervisor Training

    Supervisor Training is core training that all OCS supervisors receive within their first year of hire or promotion as a supervisor. Emphasis is placed on leadership skills, emotional intelligence, coaching workers, trauma stewardship, and strategic planning. Critical thinking concepts are woven through the entire training.

    This course is offered in two separate sessions offered one month apart. Supervisor 554, or session 1, is 4 days. Supervisor 555, or session 2, is 3 days. To complete this course, participants would need to attend both sessions.

    Supervisor Training Annotated Agenda

  • ICWA I/II

    ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) I and II provides State and Tribal workers opportunities to build relationships and encourages collaboration for working together at key points throughout a child protection case at the regional level.

    The ICWA course curricula was created by representatives from Tribes, Tribal organizations, the Office of Children's Services and various community partners several years ago and has recently been updated with the input and guidance of the Tribal State Collaboration Group's ICWA Training Workgroup.

    ICWA I

    (formerly known as Basic ICWA) is incorporated into SKILS 162 beginning in 2019. Previously, it was hosted at the regional level by the OCS Regional ICWA Specialist.  During this full-day of training, workers review important components of the ICWA including Active Efforts, Diligent Searches, and Placement Preferences. Workers listen to a panel of Tribal Representatives as they share about their role in ICWA cases. 

    ICWA II

    (formerly known as Advanced ICWA and Specialized ICWA) is a two-day training co-facilitated by an OCS Regional ICWA Specialist and a Tribal Partner at the regional level. ICWA II is designed to be completed between a worker's first and second years of hire. This course brings together State and Tribal child welfare workers and encourages collaboration for working under the ICWA provisions. During this training, participants review key sections of ICWA, explore historical events effecting Alaska Native peoples, understand the reasons ICWA was enacted, why ICWA is still important today, and examine casework at key points to identify best practice. Tribes and Tribal organizations are invited to have child welfare workers, Tribal judges and/or Tribal council members attend. *ICWA I is a pre-requisite to attend ICWA II for OCS employees (This pre-requisite is waived for any Tribal workers wishing to attend this training).

    To find out when the next ICWA II is scheduled for your region, visit the OCS Indian Child Welfare webpage.

  • Strengthening Families™ Alaska

    Strengthening Families™ is a research-informed, strength-based approach to helping families reduce stress, address risk factors, and promote healthy development.  The overarching goal is the promotion of child and family well-being. It is based on engaging families, programs and communities in building five protective factors that help families succeed and thrive, even in the face of risk and challenges.  Alaska was selected in 2005 by the Center for the Study of Social Policy to pilot this approach and continues to work with programs and communities in implementing this framework.

    For more information, visit: www.strengtheningfamilies.alaska.gov

 To register for a course, click the Register button in the right hand column.