Skills needed by Child Protection Investigation (CPI), Family Services (FS), Foster Care (FC), Adoption and Home Development (HD) staff for effective, on the job performance. This list of skills, competencies may be utilized by supervisors for hiring and staff development, as well as by universities in developing child welfare content for curriculum.


  1. Ability to use positive interviewing techniques including the ability to communicate the purpose of the interview, to control the process and direction of the interview while encouraging client participation.
  2. Ability to recognize relevant areas of family functioning.
  3. Ability to enable the family to assess its own strengths and needs in functioning.
  4. Ability to recognize the importance of child and family development theory as it applies to work with child welfare clients through use of the theory in assessment and case planning.
  5. Ability to explain principles of learning theory and behavior modification including positive and negative reinforcement and modeling strategies.
  6. Ability to identify problem behavior and develop behavior management plan with families.
  7. Ability to describe crisis intervention theory and how it has application for work with child welfare clients.
  8. Ability to explain family systems theory and apply it in field placement.
  9. Ability to explain family systems theory and apply it in field placement.
  10. Ability to social work ethics and values and explain how these apply to child welfare.
  11. Ability to recognize own emotional responses to clients, especially in areas where the student's values are challenged.
  12. Ability to describe the States' confidentiality statute and apply it in field placement.
  13. Ability to list and describe the needs presented by children with challenges
  14. Ability to describe how the needs of children impact on family functioning.
  15. Ability to enable a family to assess the impact of prospective child placement on their foster, adoptive or relative family systems.
  16. Ability to locate and assist families to locate resources to meet the family's needs and the needs of its individual members.
  17. Ability to define child abuse and neglect.
  18. Ability to recognize and accurately identify physical, emotional behavioral indictors of child neglect and sexual abuse in child victims and their families.
  19. Ability to differentiate abuse and neglect from other behaviors reported to the agency.
  20. Ability to approach a parent/caretaker with abuse/neglect allegations.
  21. Ability to differentiate between thereat of serious harm to a child and a family situation for which family preservations services are appropriate.
  22. Ability to recognize and discuss procedural aspects of the court process.
  23. Ability to understand policy issues and legal requirements affecting child welfare practice including "reasonable effort", minimum sufficient level of care, "child in need of care", least restrictive environment, permanency planning, and how to apply these requirements.
  24. Ability to communicate essential information logically and sensibly in social summaries, court reports, and letters using correct grammar.
  25. Ability to work cooperatively with co-workers in CPI, FS, FC, Adoption and Home Development to carry out goals and objectives in case plans.
  26. Ability to identify and prioritize goals and service/activity objectives for case plans.
  27. Ability to remain clam and maintain rational approach with non-voluntary and hostile clients
  28. Ability to discern when a situation becomes dangerous to the worker.
  29. Ability to evaluate observed adult/child behavior and interactions in terms of parenting capabilities.
  30. Ability to recognize characteristics of separation and attachment issues.
  31. Ability to define and describe the dynamics of separation.
  32. Ability to communicate with children at their level.
  33. Ability to recognize indicators of children's needs.
  34. Ability to work mutually with a child to assess the child's needs.
  35. Ability to engage a child in a relationship.
  36. Ability to recognize and describe the effects of a child's pervious relationships with birth parents, siblings and foster parents.
  37. Ability to enable a family to identify areas of family functioning that are relevant to parenting a child who has been abused and/or neglected.
  38. Ability to enable families to prepare for the placement of children who have been abused and/or neglected.
  39. Ability o utilize educational tools and approaches, as well as assessment and therapeutic tasks and approaches.
  40. Ability to recognize anxiety and stress reactions to moving in both adult and children.
  41. Ability to identify the tasks of all major parties involved in a child/children's move.
  42. Ability to list and describe the impact of placement on children and adolescents.
  43. Ability to respond encouragingly and appropriately to families that inquire about fostering or adopting a special needs child.
  44. Ability to identify bio, relative, foster, and adoptive families'expectations based on the reason for their inquiry or response.
  45. Ability to demonstrate warmth, respect, genuineness, and empathy.
  46. Ability to help parents explore and identify their needs for information about children's needs and community resources.
  47. Ability to identify/recognize culturally based expectations, norms, customs, lifestyles values, and language that have specific implications for responding in a culturally appropriate way.
  48. Ability to assess the agency's cultural image and cultural responsiveness.
  49. Ability to communicate effectively with persons from different cultures
  50. Ability to perform job duties in any program area without imposing personal values on the client(s).
  51. Ability to confront when necessary.
  52. Ability to discuss sensitive issues.
  53. Ability to prioritize workload realistically.
  54. Ability to work in a bureaucratic system.
  55. Ability to handle multiple assignments.
  56. Ability to use creative problem solving in working with cases in some instances develop services and resources that re virtually nonexistent, but are needed for specific case or client.
  57. Ability to identify aberrant behavior needing mental health treatment and intervention.
  58. Ability to recognize substance abuse, client need for information and referral to community resources.
  59. Ability to define professionalism and demonstrates the behavior.


Prepared by: Bert Ellet (1996)/Patsy S. Johnson (2003)



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