Over the past three years we have been working together with Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, in putting evidence at the heart of the Agency’s work, and in building the confidence of social workers in their work with children and families. The Empowering Practitioners and Practice Initiative (EPPI) is a three year project to support social workers in Tusla to deal with the challenges they come across in their practice.
Tusla recently launched a new Child Protection and Welfare Strategy, which proposes a consistent, single approach to how the Agency engages with children and families. The toolkit will support this approach.
Two elements of the project include the Evidence Informed Practitioner Programme and a professional development plan for social workers. A third element involves the development of a toolkit to support social work practice in the Agency.
What the toolkit contains
The toolkit has been designed to meet the needs of both social workers and the Agency and includes eight different sections. Content for the toolkit is based on areas in social work practice such as child development theory, supporting families dealing with domestic, sexual and gender based violence, or helping children and families to cope with separation or loss.
The toolkit includes anything from short, evidence based summaries, to practice tips, free tools and resources. The idea is to develop an evidence informed resource which brings everything together in one convenient location for social workers, and that will be used consistently across the services.
Testing the tools
The first four modules of the EPPI Toolkit went live in December 2016 and were piloted by social workers. Four new modules were produced and shared with social work teams around the country in May this year. Social workers and their teams are providing valuable feedback as they test and apply the tools in real life situations.
A Toolkit Project Team, including social workers and area managers has guided the development of the toolkit, to ensure that it is relevant to individual social workers, as well as being in line with the strategy, policies and practice guidelines within the Agency.
All eight sections will be available to social work staff in Tusla in August this year.