Child Welfare & Family Well-being

The Office of Child Welfare Workforce Advancement houses our suite of training, consultation and professional development programs for child-serving professionals. The office administers the NJ Child Welfare Training Partnership for the child protection and permanency workforce, GROW NJ KIDS Training Project for the early childcare and preschool workforce, and the Adoption Certificate Program, as well as a variety of other tailored capacity-building projects in child welfare, in New Jersey and nationwide.

Theresa Comprelli McCutcheon, MSW
Director, Office of Child Welfare Workforce Advancement
848.932.0505 Office
732.791.1532 Fax

Adoption Certificate Training Program/Child Welfare Professional Development

The Institute for Families at the Rutgers School of Social Work offers a Child Welfare Track of the Certificate Program in Adoption as a 12-course training series for New Jersey’s child welfare workforce. Intended to increase the knowledge and skills of adoption workers within the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, this program focuses on the core issues facing adoptive families and on attachment-based, family-focused work with children and families.

The Certificate Program in Adoption: Child Welfare Track is comprised of a series of twelve workshops that are divided into two levels—six 100-level courses and six 200-level advanced courses. Participants earn five continuing education units for attendance in each session. Workshops offered in this program are facilitated by instructors who are subject matter experts from a range of practice settings.

The Certificate Program in Adoption: Child Welfare Track begins each academic year with two new cohorts hand selected by the Division of Child Protection & Permanency’s Office of Adoption Operations. Participants in the 100-level program begin with three courses in the fall and continue with three courses in the spring. A cohort of more advanced child welfare staff with significant adoption experience is selected for the 200-level program. Advanced participants also attend three courses in the fall and three courses in the spring. Each workshop runs once per academic year and all trainings are held at the Professional Center at DCF in New Brunswick, NJ. Those who miss one or more classes are able to attend make-up classes the following academic year.

100-Level Workshops:

  • Psychology of Adoption
  • Adoption of Older Children
  • Kinship Adoption
  • Attachment-Focused Work with Families
  • Adoption Recruitment/Adoption Supports
  • Preparing Children for Adoption

200-Level Advanced Workshops:

  • Enhancing Adoptive Families’ Support of LGBTQI Youth
  • Factual Witness Training
  • Trauma-Informed Response When Working with Adoptive Families
  • Creating a Meaningful Life Story
  • Conceptualizing Crisis When Working with Adoptive Families
  • When the Other Shoe Drops: Helping Adoptive Families Navigate the Rewards and Challenges of Placement
Father and son playing soccer

Grow NJ Kids Training Services

Grow NJ Kids Training Services is a collaborative effort between the Institute for Families and the New Jersey Department of Human Services to manage and coordinate professional development for the early child care workforce. Research shows that children who are in quality child care and early learning programs are more prepared for kindergarten and have better reading skills, broader math skills, and larger vocabularies.

Grow NJ Kids Training Services directs, delivers, and evaluates training that helps build the knowledge and skills required of child care professionals who are part of Grow NJ Kids, an initiative to raise the quality of early care and education for children from birth through preschool. 

The first few years of a child’s life can create a foundation for well-being and learning that is either fragile or strong. Brain development is exceptionally rapid. During the first three years of life, synapses are formed at a rate higher than any other time in life. Social and emotional connections are shaped that will influence attachment throughout the childhood years. The building blocks of language and literacy are established and set the stage for lifelong learning. Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers depend on skilled, knowledgeable caregivers to foster healthy growth and development.      

In New Jersey, more than 330,000 children under the age of five spend time in a professional care setting each day. The caregivers in these programs are among the most influential relationships in a young child’s life. They have the ability to nurture and support infants, toddlers, and preschoolers through their most significant periods of cognitive, emotional, and physical development. Our early care and education providers deserve a professional development program that promotes their important work in the classroom and provides them with best practices and concrete tools for cultivating healthy young learners. 

Grow NJ Kids Training Services delivers a wide array of in-person and online training courses that guide professionals in applying evidence-based classroom curricula, utilizing environmental rating scales, and fostering developmental milestones for children in their care. Our Grow NJ Kids Training Services team coordinates education around:

  • Teaching Strategies: Creative Curriculum® and GOLD® assessments
  • HighScope:  HighScope® PreSchool and Infant/Toddler Curriculum and COR ® child assessments 
  • Let’s Move
  • Strengthening Families through Early Care and Education: Protective Factors
  • Tools of the Mind
  • Program Administration Scale (PAS)
  • ITERS-R, ECERS-3, and FCCERS Environmental Rating Scales
  • Ages and Stages Questionnaires™ 
  • Classroom Assessment Scoring System®
  • Caregiver-child interactions
  • Many other topics related to child care and early learning experiences 

The skilled instructors for Grow NJ Kids Training Services facilitate classroom-based education following established national curricula to meet the professional development needs of providers—including directors, teachers, assistant teachers, aides, and support staff. Classes build skills and knowledge needed to implement the state’s emerging quality rating system and work successfully to raise the quality of child care and early learning programs across New Jersey. To learn more about Grow NJ Kids, please visit the website at 

For additional information about Grow NJ Kids Training Services, contact us at

Child smiling

New Jersey Child Welfare Training Partnership

Established in 2007, the New Jersey Child Welfare Training Partnership is a collaborative effort between the NJ Department of Children and Families (DCF) Office of Training and Professional Development (OTPD) and a DCF-funded University Partnership headed by Rutgers School of Social Work, Institute for Families, Office of Child Welfare Workforce Advancement. The Partnership provides ongoing professional development to the state’s child welfare workforce, most often Division of Child Protection and Permanency (CP&P) caseworkers.

Following a 2005 Children’s Rights lawsuit, New Jersey entered into a Modified Settlement Agreement that established an annual training requirement of 40 hours for NJ’s child welfare workers. This 40-hour threshold is intended to increase knowledge and skills related to the workforce’s interaction with children and families. The Partnership was initially charged with implementing change in the state’s culture of child welfare practice, supporting movement from a case management service delivery model to the state’s current strengths-based, family-centered, and child-focused model of supporting families. 

Today, the Partnership exists as a workforce development approach, building the skills and knowledge of more than 5,000 professionals dedicated to the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families across the state. The Partnership provides professional development training to DCF staff on a variety of topics designed to enhance practice with children and families.

Rutgers collaborates with Stockton University’s Child Welfare Education Institute to develop and deliver effective, relevant training courses designed to assist CP&P workers in ensuring the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families.

In an effort to measure participant satisfaction and knowledge gained from attending trainings, surveys and pre/posttests for all course offerings are routinely administered. Satisfaction surveys assess the overall training experience and solicit feedback on the workshop, materials, and instructor. High stakes pre/posttests determine knowledge retention of course content and are unique to each course. Passing scores are set by OTPD; Pre-Service, Foundation, and Mandatory courses require a score of 80% or higher, while Elective courses require 70% or higher on the posttest to pass the course.

Classes include:

New CP&P workers attend an intensive set of trainings that orient them to DCF, including courses that review federal and state laws related to their responsibilities, provide a history of New Jersey’s child welfare system and reform, promote self-care, and introduce the state’s electronic recordkeeping systems.

Pre-Service and Foundation courses are a set of obligatory trainings that provide fundamental information on building skills critical for child welfare professionals and are mandated by CP&P. These critical courses prepare workers for the overlapping issues between child welfare, mental health, domestic violence, and substance use.

Curriculum development efforts of the Partnership schools provide staff with a wide variety of Electives to supplement learning and skills required of all workers with relevant and timely topics in effectively serving vulnerable children and families. Over 100 elective titles include Girls and Gangs, Technology Addiction, Human Trafficking, and Compulsive Hoarding.

Class photo
Father and son playing soccer
Child smiling
Class photo

New Jersey Standards for Prevention Program

The Importance of Prevention

Child welfare and other state systems of service have tremendous potential to bring about family and community well-being by supporting and strengthening families and preventing child abuse and neglect. The factors that put families at risk of abuse and neglect are well-known. State and local systems as well as community partnerships can be powerful forces in ameliorating these risks. The effectiveness of prevention approaches is also well-known; they enable all systems to better accomplish their goals for improving child, family, and community outcomes. Effective prevention programs, services, and strategies enhance family functioning by reducing risk and building protective factors.

Standards for New Jersey Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Programs

New Jersey’s Standards for Prevention Programs outline essential elements for highly effective, strength-based, primary and secondary prevention programs. Since 2003, New Jersey’s child maltreatment and family support programs have been guided by these standards. In 2013, these Standards were revised to reflect the latest practice research. There was a strong commitment to assist programs in conducting an objective self-assessment and program improvement plan to ensure that these prevention standards were applied to everyday practice with families.

Learn more about NJ’s Prevention Standards

Needs Assessment and Training Initiative

To identify areas of strength in New Jersey programs and to reinforce areas of improvement in prevention work, the Division of Family and Community Partnerships (DFCP) at the Department of Children and Families (DCF) partnered with the Institute for Families (IFF) in 2015 to conduct an inventory of current practices and provide further training and support in embedding these standards across the state’s network of prevention programs. This work was supported with funds from the Children’s Trust Fund under priorities established in collaboration with the Prevention Committee of the NJ Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect.

The Initiative created several educational tools in prevention:

Web-Based Training for Parents and Professionals

Webinar for Parents

The webinar is intended for parents that participate in family support programs funded by Division of Family and Community Partnerships, Department of Children and Families. The primary goal of the webinar is to provide an overview of the Standards. The webinar is available in English and Spanish. It is suggested that program providers use the webinar in a facilitated session where they can encourage discussion with parents and answer questions. A post-assessment tool is also provided that could also be used to gather feedback from parents.

Webinars for Professionals

Measuring Outcomes and Conducting Evaluations

The purpose of this webinar is to discuss select findings from the survey of NJ Prevention Programs regarding Administrative Standards - 7: Measures Outcomes and Conducts Evaluation. Included are suggestions for implementing simple data collections activities that can help programs improve their ratings on this Standard item.

Participatory Development Planning

The purpose of this webinar is to discuss select findings from the survey of NJ Prevention Programs regarding Practice with Communities - 1: Participatory Development Planning. Included are suggestions for implementing simple data collections activities that can help programs improve their ratings on this Standard item.

20 Ways Your Community Programs Build Strong, Healthy and Nurturing Families

Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey’s Standards for Prevention Webinar Series

Needs Assessment and Training Initiative: Summary of IFF Activities