The Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Community of Practice in Alberta Human Services - Leading from Within Initiative

The initiative examined how a model of training for casework supervisors, caseworks and regional managers has supported casework practice for children in Alberta and bult expertise on FASD in Human Services.

The FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) Community of Practice (CoP) in Alberta Human Services: Leading from Within Initiative (Alberta, Canada) One Page Summary 2013

Project Funder: Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research

Dorothy Badry, PhD, RSW

The FASD Community of Practice (CoP) Initiative, Leading from Within (LFW) research evaluation project took place in the Child and Family Services Authorities (CFSAs) in Alberta from 2012-2013. This research examined how an advanced model of training for casework supervisors, caseworkers and regional managers has supported and enhanced casework practice for children with FASD in care in the province of Alberta, whilst strategically building expertise on FASD within the Human Services Workforce. The FASD CoP began in Alberta, Canada in 2003 and has focused on basic training on FASD for child welfare staff and foster parents, as well as utilization of specific promising practices for children and families. The FASD CoP LFW initiative focused on the unique and specific case management needs of children with FASD, a lifelong disabling condition caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. A course was developed and provided to participants, that focused on advanced training, competencies, case consultation and critical discussions on practice and policy from a provincial perspective on FASD.

This initiative was set up as a course through Workforce Development and consisted of ten days training. There were 22 participants from the CFSAs representing nine regions. Participants were required to complete the Level One: Solutions through Case Management and Level Two: Advanced courses, and FASD: Team Competency and Screening. Following this training, 6 days of Case Consultation occurred that involved reviewing actual cases as part of the training. The consultation team included the lead consultant and trainer, a representative from the Education system, the child’s team (caseworker, foster parent, community agency representatives) and at least two course participants had the opportunity to sit at the consultation table. Other participants engaged in observation of this highly structured case consultation environment. This process provided intensive training on the challenges faced by children with FASD, caseworkers, foster parents, educators and allied professions caring for children with complex needs. Issues covered during the case consultation included stress in the placement, educational/learning difficulties, health concerns, social concerns, sexuality, behaviour problems, and issues related to the transition to adulthood. A critical aspect of the training and case consultation process was developing and reinforcing the need to understand FASD as a disability, and to consider the life trajectory for children. Through advanced training and case consultation experience, partnerships amongst the child’s team were strengthened, recommendations were made for various challenges, and a clear mandate for follow up work was provided. A total of 18 cases were reviewed. Once the case consultations were complete a debriefing discussion on the case took place and focused on the review of critical learning and insights.

Providing advanced training and live case consultations offers a significant contribution to learning in-depth about the needs of children with FASD, their caregivers, areas where more support/reinforcement is required, including a need to advocate for supports and services. A Four Point Model of Protective Case Planning for Child with FASD includes 1) Training on FASD and child welfare practice, 2) Children with FASD in need: critical supports, 3) Placement stability support, and 4) intervention strategies: supporting connections, compliance and competencies was developed as a result of the research conducted on the training. Participants positively evaluated the training and indicated that their skill and knowledge levels increased on complex case management for children with FASD. A deeper appreciation of the problems children with FASD face in their homes, schools and communities was developed. This research leads to recommendations that include supporting stability in the child’s life through engaged casework supervision. The need to develop specific competencies that support FASD informed practice understands a life trajectory perspective and heightens awareness of the value of early intervention and ongoing case management supports for the child and the placement. This work is aligned with the FASD 10 Year Strategic Plan in Alberta. Case consultation observation and participation in clinical recommendations is a meaningful way to enhance recognition and learning on the complexity of FASD, while offering direction and consultation for children in need.

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Created: 2013-09-05
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