Creating a Safety Culture in Child Welfare
Tuesday, May 21st, 2019
10:30 AM - 11:45 AM: Breakout
In highly publicized reports of child deaths in 2014, Minnesota's governor described the child welfare system as a "colossal failure" and convened a Task Force on the Protection of Children. During this time, Minnesota's child welfare workforce was embattled; the turnover rate was unprecedented; relationships between the state and local child welfare agencies deteriorated. Child welfare professionals described never experiencing anything similar to the culture of fear that had developed.

The unintended consequences of this work and the narrative painted about Child Welfare during this time taught Minnesota important lessons on what it means to create a system of learning and accountability for improving child and family outcomes.

As Minnesota embarked on the implementation of one of the Task Force recommendations, redesigning the state's process for reviewing child fatalities and near-fatalities, we quickly discovered the need to create a cultural paradigm shift within Minnesota's Child Welfare System.

Minnesota was fortunate to come across the work of Collaborative Safety, LLC. Founders, Noel Hengelbrok and Dr. Scott Modell have been leading advocates for applying human factors and system safety principles to human service agencies in the United States.

The Collaborative Safety model utilizes a unique blend of sciences and methods to advance a culture of safety which includes a Systemic Critical Incident Review process. The scientific base for the model is founded in Safety Science which is commonly championed in industries such as aviation and healthcare and had not been integrated across human service agencies until Collaborative Safety.

Over the past two years, Collaborative Safety has been instrumental in guiding the cultural shift occurring in Minnesota's Child Welfare System - one from blame to accountability and from applying quick fixes to understanding underlying systemic features.

The results of this work have been transformational. Since implementation, we have seen our workforce stabilize, an increase in public trust and a more responsive child welfare system that is dedicated to learning.

Minnesota's Child Welfare workforce have said it best: "This is a game changer for child welfare," and "If it weren't for this process, I'd have quit this job."
Jamie Sorenson, Director, Child Safety and Permanency Division
MN Department of Human Services
Scott Modell, Founder
Collaborative Safety, LLC
Noel Hengelbrok, Founder
Collaborative Safety, LLC
Kelly Knutson, Continuous Quailty Improvement Supervisor
MN Dept of Human Services