South Central Region highlight: Better is the new norm
By Tim Bolles, Protective Services Manager II
When I think of the improvements that the Wasilla field office has made over the past four years, it is difficult to pin down any one factor that I could convincingly articulate as the cause of our progress. So often we look for a single cause, intervention or adaptation that results in achieving the desired affects that we miss the true sources of change.
When challenged to increase caseworker visits with children in out-of-home care, the attitude of Wasilla staff shifted from “How can we do it?” to “We have to and we have to record it.” That attitude shift resulted in huge improvement in documented caseworker visits. The Wasilla staff acknowledged how important all of our OCS service providers are — and how crucial our partnerships are. Making a conscious effort to open doors for those partnerships, and to keep them open, enables greatly improved outcomes for the families we serve.
Celebrating the positive and every success have gone a long way toward keeping and building upon good staff. We now have one of the lowest turnover rates our service region has seen. When you combine positive attitudes with a stable work force and committed, talented staff, change for the better is inevitable.
In 2013, we saw some of Wasilla’s highest rates of reunification, timely initial assessment and adoption completions. This year, our Family Services Assessment team is at full strength, and we look confidently ahead to see what successes the future holds for the families we support.
I think it is always exciting and indicative of positive change when past highs are today’s unacceptable lows. Our dedicated staff members are committed to being the best they can be and keeping children safe, while walking families through crisis. They rise, together, to each challenge and take great pride in their work. Looking back over the last several years, I see that we have come a long way. We still have much work ahead of us, and we are committed to continuous growth. But I am pleased to say that the positive changes we have made are here to stay.