Developing Engagement Competence for Public Child Welfare: Results of an Inter-University Simulation Project

Abstract

Strong clinical competence is required for the successful engagement of clients in public child welfare. Successful engagement is associated with increasing positive outcomes for families. Three universities partnered to implement a simulation based learning (SBL) project to better prepare Title IV-E students in engagement competence when working with clients in public child welfare. Over three years, 70 students participated in a two scenario Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE) interviewing an adolescent and her mother regarding an allegation of abuse with post interview reflection and feedback. The project was assessed using standardized rating tools and post interview reflection responses. Students consistently performed better with the adolescent than with the mother who presented with more resistance. Performance improved when completing the OSCE twice during an academic year and when specific learning modules were added. Student management of emotional regulation, interviewing challenges, and inconsistent awareness of diversity emerged as themes from student responses. Findings suggest transfer of learning from classroom to practice situations continues to be challenging. SBL can provide an important bridge by creating practice scenarios that challenge student emotional regulation, interviewing skills, and application of culturally responsive practice in a safe and controlled environment while providing rich opportunities for student learning and development. Increased collaboration between the academy and field internship sites are needed to maximize the potential of the SBL experience.

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Correspondence to Mary A. Rawlings.

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Rawlings, M.A., Olivas, V., Waters-Roman, D. et al. Developing Engagement Competence for Public Child Welfare: Results of an Inter-University Simulation Project. Clin Soc Work J (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10615-021-00798-9

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Keywords

  • Public child welfare
  • Client engagement
  • Simulation based learning
  • Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE)