Summer, 2014


Every day we hear of the challenges supervisors and caseworkers face when working families with substance abuse issues.This edition of The Forum focuses on substance abuse in child welfare and provides you with some resources. We'd like to keep the conversation going and hear how these articles and resources have impacted your work, and what other challenges you are face when working with these families. Your stories will help shape future newsletters.


Be a part of the conversation. Send your stories to


Is Addiction Really a Disease?

Ed Hughes, MPS, LICDC-CS, The Counseling Center, Inc.


It has become common to refer to alcoholism and drug addiction as a disease. However, there remains considerable confusion, and for some, skepticism regarding how addiction qualifies as a disease. After all, don't people simply choose to do drugs? Can they simply not choose to do drugs? It also seems apparent that the majority of addicted people possess very similar personality traits that would led one to surmise that addiction is really more of a psychological or character issue rather than a disease.


Read the answer to the question "Is Addiction Really a Disease?".

Participate in a Distance Learning Opportunity Just For Supervisors!


What is addiction? What are successful intervention strategies for addicted individuals? What is the process of recovery and what supports can be put in place to prevent relapse? How can I reframe success for my caseworkers who are burnout by these difficult cases? Simply put, issues of substance abuse have rocked the field of child welfare, and supervisors have been challenged with understanding addiction, relapse, and recovery so they can ensure the safety and wellbeing of children.


This two-hour session will offer an overview of current thinking regarding addiction, relapse, and recovery offering supervisors  plenty of  opportunity to have their substance abuse related questions answered by an expert in the field of recovery and addiction. Supervisors will also have an opportunity to learn and share successful strategies related to working these difficult cases.


put this on your calendar Workshop: Is Addiction Really a Disease? Getting Answers to Important Questions
Trainer: Ed Hughes, CEO of Compass Community Health, a family of agencies dedicated to providing integrated addiction, mental health, primary care and housing services
Date: August 5, 2014
Time: 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
E-Track Learning Code: 521-3-DL3
Dear Supervisor
Dear Supervisor is our take on the well-known "Dear Abby" advice column. This segment is devoted to helping supervisors meet the challenges of the job.  The questions come from you, child welfare supervisors. If you have a challenge you'd like us to address, email us at
Question: What can I do to supervise and support my workers with cases involving substance abuse?
Laura Somers, Athens County Children Services, Ongoing Supervisor 


One of the more perplexing and difficult problems to address in child welfare is the exploding epidemic of substance abuse.  Our caseworkers are often frustrated with the inability to make headway with parents who we would think should be hitting rock bottom with the removal of their children, but are not demonstrating the desire or ability to make changes. It often seems illogical that a parent would risk the permanent loss of their children in order to get high. However, our statistics and experiences show that even when faced with this reality, addicted parents struggle and often lose their battles with addiction, giving up their families to relatives or adoption.


As supervisors how do we help our workers cope with feelings of frustration, apathy and sometimes anger for young parents who appear to prefer getting high to raising their children? Click here to read Laura's suggestions.

Learning to Control Safety Threats Manifested by Substance Abuse
Vince Ciola, Institute for Human Services
A recent article in the Miami Herald examined safety plans and the real outcomes of ineffective safety planning.  It's a "must read" for any child welfare professional. Click here to read the full article.

Substance abuse often creates unpredictable safety threats, and supervisors depend on caseworkers' judgment in the field to assure immediate safety. Yet, we know that parents struggling with drug addiction are effective at deceiving caseworkers while actively using drugs. They make passionate promises to change their behavior, but because of their disease they are unable.


Home visit

The key to controlling safety threats manifested by substance abuse is effective safety planning. Although safety planning is a primary skill for caseworkers, few are confident and competent safety planners. Developing these skills should be a priority for every child welfare supervisor, but the task takes long-term support and prioritization. A great place to get started is the workshop
CAPMIS Safety Planning. The workshop is for supervisors and caseworkers and is a great training to take together as a team. Use the learning code 114-CPM1B-S to register through E-Track, or request a new session today!
What's Happening Around Ohio?
A list of the latest news, updates, and announcements from the OCWTP
  • Mark your calendars! The 29th Annual PCSAO Conference will be held September 10-12, 2014, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel of Worthington/Columbus. On September 10th, PCSAO will offer a track just for PCSA supervisors. More information will be available soon. 
  • Managing for Outcomes: Using SACWIS Data to Improve Performance is a three-hour learning lab that introduces supervisors to using SACWIS data to improve individual staff performance, monitor and improve unit outcomes, and promote data-driven decision-making on behalf of children and their families. Register for the lab in E-Track using the learning number 511-SACWIS-7-LLS.


  • As a supervisor, some of our most valuable learning comes from the sharing of knowledge and best practices among peers. In September, the OCWTP is offering you a chance to do just that - join a group of supervisors to work on unit-specific goals related to engaging families. Click here to learn how to take advantage of this opportunity.
The SACWIS Spotlight!
Permanency Roundtable Skills Case Summary Form
Kristine Monroe and Karen McGormley, Office of Families and Children


In order to help support the Permanency Roundtables (PRT) initiative, SACWIS has undergone recent updates in two areas that will be helpful for PRT counties. Click here to learn about the Permanency Roundtable Skills Case Summary Form.

Superstar Supervisor!
Congratulations Liz Schmid, Summit County Children Services Protective Services Supervisor!

The "Training Stars" wall.

Pictured: Amanda Hylton (left) and Liz Schmid (right)

Nominated by: Jodie Hembree, Northeast Ohio Regional Training Center.
Liz Schmid developed a "Training Stars" wall as a way to enhance transfer of learning. She indicates, "When a worker attends training I have them write on a star what they took away from the training or what they plan on implementing in their practice. These Stars are posted for the rest of the unit to see and utilize as well."
Her staff have responded favorably, with one staff expressing, "I think that the training stars help us to really think about what we learned in training. It allows us to pick out what was the most relevant or most important thing that we learned. It also serves as a reminder for us. Every time I go into her office for supervision, I look up at the stars and reread them so it helps to remind me of what I've learned and therefore, I am more likely to actually use it in the field." Another staff mentioned, "I think the training stars make us reflect and think about what we learned in training and how we can apply it to our current caseload."
Even though Liz is fairly new to supervision, she has made transfer of learning and professional development of her staff a top priority.
Do you have someone you want to nominate as a "Superstar Supervisor"? Email and tell us about them!
Child Welfare and Substance Abuse Resources
Toolkits, Information & Resources
OCWTP Resources for Supervisors
Hear from you
We are seeking your input about the supervisor newsletter and other OCWTP learning activities. Please take a moment to give us your feedback. The information will be used to tailor the newsletter to best meet your needs and to help OCWTP plan supervisor learning activities.