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ACT Graduate Clinical Training Survey Results and Implications

Kinship Center Education Institute

Presented by the

Kinship Center Education Institute

Every Child Deserves a Family

White Paper Series: Vol. 1, #102



2011 by Kinship Center All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this document may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission. Kinship Center 124 River Road, Salinas, CA 93908 Phone: 831-455-9965

The Kinship Center Education Institute provides exceptional education to professionals and families. The EI offers traditional classroom training, video products, e-learning, custom course development, consultation services, and speakers for events and national conferences. For more information and a detailed list of Education Institute products and services, please visit our website:
Kinship Center White Paper Series, Vol. 1, #102 2011

ACT Graduate Clinical Training Survey Results and Implications

presented by Kinship Center Education Institute

Kinship Center has developed and disseminated a post-graduate permanency curriculum that will be the standard for providing comprehensive clinically-based and permanency-competent training to transmit knowledge and facilitate critical skills acquisition. Nationwide, the clinical training needs for professionals are growing exponentially as more children are being adopted or permanently placed with relatives. There is a need to strengthen the clinical knowledge and skills acquisition of both mental health workers and social workers in order to adequately support permanent families and also avoid tragic and costly family disruptions that result from having limited access to family-involved and competent post permanency care and therapy. The ACT curriculum has benefited from continuous participant evaluation and also post training evaluation of the impact and value of the training. Through these evaluations and from general participant feedback, the Education Institute recognized the significant desire and need of course participants to continue to build on the clinical foundations established in ACT as well as to deepen their understanding of the principles outlined in the series. The Education Institute determined that an online survey of ACT graduates would be the most efficient method to determine the most needed areas for advanced training and education. The survey results provide clear indications of where professionals in the field of child welfare and childrens mental health most desire post-graduate training, and direction for the Education Institutes curriculum development activities.

acknowledged as the most comprehensive permanency knowledgeable curriculum in the field

Brief History of ACT

ACT is the first comprehensive post-graduate permanency curriculum that has been tested and refined over time. This curriculum provides intensive practice and clinically informed training to agency adoption and permanency professionals and community based therapists, expanding the application of techniques and knowledge from related fields, such as education, mental health, and neurobiology to the practice of adoption and relative guardianship. The eight sessions of ACT (48 training hours) in its earliest stages was acknowledged as the most comprehensive permanency knowledgeable curriculum in the field.1 The curriculum is designed to advance and inform adoption practice, expand the pool of qualified child welfare and mental health providers available

Howard, J.A & Smith, S.L. (1997) Strengthening Adoptive families: A synthesis of Post-Legal Adoption Opportunities Grants. .Normal IL, Illinois State University

Kinship Center White Paper Series, Vol. 1, #102 2011

to permanent families, integrate permanency practice across an array of programs, and engage and retain qualified professional staff in adoption and post permanency services. ACT transmits core competencies to individual professionals and to agency staff groups seeking to improve and standardize their programs with shared, quality knowledge and a commitment to integrated practice principles. ACT is also informed by Kinship Centers twenty-six year service history in California of providing a broad array of permanency services, including infant, special needs and international adoptions; kinship caregiver support; adoption specialty wraparound services; and child development and mental health clinics that are permanency specialty models. Kinship Center attributes the successful outcomes of its programs and <2% disruption rate historically to the impact of ACT on the skills and commitment of its staff to creating and supporting permanent families. The ACT curriculum was initially developed to meet one agencys need for specialized training of professional employees across programs and to compensate for the lack of a cohesive and inclusive curriculum that provided a comprehensive body of adoption knowledge via a set of unifying principles. Interest from outside professionals and organizations encouraged continued development, refinement, standardization and dissemination of the course in its current form. The eight sessions of ACT include didactic lecture, large and small group discussion, integrated learning activities, interactive experiences, video, and supportive reading materials. Every module addresses the dynamics and needs of primary members of the adoption and relative family constellation, addressing both the common issues and those unique to each population. Modules also integrate special issues and information, such as those pertaining to the large adoptive family, children with special needs, kinship families, sibling issues and ethics in adoption practice. In addition, tools for use in practice with children and their families are incorporated into each session, so that skills acquired during the training may be applied immediately.

Survey Methodology and Design

The Education Institute designed an online survey for ACT graduates to determine the types of advanced courses, tools and techniques that were of strongest interest to this population. The first portion of the survey focused on general background information about the survey respondents. The remainder of the survey focused on broad topic areas for potential advanced training courses that survey respondents were asked to respond to in terms of their interest. For each of the topic areas, respondents were also asked to indicate the type of knowledge and/or skills they would like to acquire. The first portion of the survey gathered background information about ACT graduates in the following areas: Demographic information: Geographic location Years in the field Type of organization Job type Credential/degree Type of clients served

Kinship Center White Paper Series, Vol. 1, #102 2011

ACT experience: Years since ACT training completed How often graduates are using the concepts, tools and information from the ACT training Preferred training methods: Classroom training Live webinar training Number of times ACT series completed

Self-paced online training Other Courses lasting no more than 3 hours No interest in online courses

Online training preferences: Courses lasting no more than 90 minutes Courses lasting no more than 6 hours Availability of CEUs for trainings:

The impact of the availability of CEUs on interest in advanced courses

The second portion of the survey provided broad topic areas for potential advanced courses. Survey respondents were asked to indicate their interest in each topic area with a yes or no answer. If respondents gave a yes response to a topic area, a secondary drop-down question appeared in the survey, asking respondents to indicate the type of knowledge or skills they would like to acquire in that area. The topic areas used in the survey were derived from feedback on ACT evaluations as well as from prior post-ACT surveys. The fourteen topic areas used in the survey were as follows: Broad topic areas: Trauma Child development Permanency Diverse family systems Childrens mental health Crisis management Siblings Other (specify) Attachment Adoption Grief and Loss Parenting Kinship caregivers Schools/education Search and reunion

If respondents indicated interest in the above topics with a yes response, the secondary drop-down question that appeared asked respondents to indicate the type of knowledge or skills they would like to acquire in that area. Respondents were allowed to choose any of the following that applied: Practice Tools Clinical Techniques Theory/Conceptual Framework Research & Trends Resources Other
Kinship Center White Paper Series, Vol. 1, #102 2011

Survey Results
The Kinship Center online survey regarding advanced clinical training went out to 653 ACT graduates. The time given to complete the survey was just 14 days. In that time, 149 respondents completed the survey, resulting in a 23% response rate. However, because the respondents preferences were so marked, it is reasonable to assume that a greater response rate would have produced similar results. Some of the key survey results are given below. Social workers were the largest group of respondents, at 44% of the total group. Therapists were 23% of the total, and another 23% of respondents put themselves in the category of Other. The Other category consisted of social work supervisors, administrative support staff, Wraparound staff, combination positions of social worker/therapist or social worker/management and a few other job types.
3.4% 4.7%

17.4% 35.6% 38.9%

Weekly Monthly Annually Other

Overlay shows 92% of ACT graduates use the information at least monthly.

Consistent with the first point, 47% of respondents held MSW degrees. Respondents with MFT credentials were 20 % of the total, and respondents with Bachelors Degrees were 11% of the total. The Other category was 24% of the total, and it was comprised of respondents with LCSW, PhD or other Masters credentials. There were a small number of individuals without degrees but with some college experience.

The respondents years of experience in the field ranged widely, with 43% of respondents working in their field for 1 to 10 years. Respondents who work for private organizations were approximately 46% of the total, and 36% work for public agencies. Approximately 9% of respondents are in private practice. The vast majority of respondents (76% 88%) are working with clients in foster care and/or adoption. Approximately 56% to 59% of respondents work in the areas of post-adoption services and/or relative care.
Graph 1. Percentage of Graduates using ACT in their Practice

With regard to the survey respondents experience with ACT, approximately 90% have taken ACT within the last 5 years. Most respondents have completed ACT just once (82%), and 15% have completed the ACT series twice. Approximately 39% of survey respondents reported that they are using the tools, concepts or information from ACT on a daily basis. Another 36% reported that they are using the ACT information on a weekly basis, and 17% said they are using the information on a monthly basis. Combining these totals, the survey showed that 92% of respondents report that they are using the tools, concepts or information from ACT on a daily, weekly or monthly basis; approximately 75% of respondents are using the information on at least a weekly basis. The preferred method of training for survey respondents was clearly classroom style training, with almost 90% of respondents expressing that preference. Respondents were allowed to choose more than one method of training, and 22% said that they would be interested in online training and 17% said that they would be interested in live webinars. Approximately 62% of survey respondents said that the availability of CEUs would not impact their decision to take a particular training. 4
Kinship Center White Paper Series, Vol. 1, #102 2011

There were five topic areas that garnered the strongest interest. The topics, with the percentage of respondents who indicated interest in those topics, are as follows: Trauma 98% Attachment 95% Adoption 89% Grief and Loss 88% Childrens Mental Health 87% Within each of these topic areas, respondents showed a consistently strong interest in learning more about Practice Tools and Clinical Techniques. For each of the five topic areas, 80% to 85% of respondents indicated an interest in learning more about Practice Tools. Similarly, 77% to 85% of respondents indicated an interest in learning more about Clinical Techniques in these areas. A somewhat less marked but still consistent finding was that 62% to 70% of respondents indicated that they would like to learn more about Resources in the five topic areas. Interest in Research in these areas ranged more widely, from 51% to 71%. Similarly, interest in Theory/Conceptual Framework ranged from 46% to 63%.

Survey Implications
Kinship Centers Education Institute is commit88% ted to developing focused educational courses and Grief and Loss products that meet the needs of our customers. 89% Given the high number of ACT graduates who reAdoption port using the materials and techniques learned in 95% Attachment the ACT curriculum on at least a weekly basis, it can be concluded that the curriculum is essential 98% Trauma to the outcomes that occur in their practice. The Education Institute should develop classroom-based Graph 2. Most Requested Clinical Training Topics advanced clinical training modules designed with the same psychoeducational model as ACT and provide more tools and skills for professionals that build upon the foundations of the ACT curriculum. The overwhelming response to the subject areas of trauma, attachment, adoption, grief and loss, and childrens mental health speaks to the types of issues that are most meaningful to the professionals who take ACT. Fortunately, the evidence informed clinical practice at Kinship Center and the outcomes that the organization produces are focused in the same subject areas. It is our intent that these advanced training modules will add more tools and skills for other professionals so that they may have similar outcomes in their practice.
Childrens Mental Health

Catie Hargrove is passionate about adult education and leading the charge to improve educational opportunities in child welfare and childrens mental health nationwide. As the Director of Kinship Centers Education Institute, she helps guide the education of social work and mental health professionals and
Kinship Center White Paper Series, Vol. 1, #102 2011

parents around issues of adoption, foster care, kinship care and childrens mental health through classroom-based training, e-learning, consultation and social media. Margaret Ross provides program support for Kinship Centers Education Institute through curriculum development and coordination of the Institutes faculty and trainings. Her experience as an adoption and foster care social worker supports her belief in the importance of empowering families and professionals through dynamic education.

Kinship Center White Paper Series, Vol. 1, #102 2011