NASWConf Presenters 9926This spring, Dr. Suzanne Sutphin, Brenda Amedee, and Traci Gilden joined Malik Whitaker at the 2018 National Association of Social Workers (NASW) South Carolina Spring Symposium, presenting on strategies to improve systems that assist children and families in the state.

A Research Assistant Professor at the Center, Sutphin collaborated with Amedee, the Senior Program Manager for Quality Assurance (QA), and QA reviewer Gilden, describing in their session QA’s experience using the inter-rater reliability (IRR) process and explaining how it can be implemented at other agencies.

Sutphin and Whitaker, the Continuous Quality Improvement Director at the Department of Social Services (DSS), presented on the agency’s Child Welfare Program Improvement Plan (PIP), which aims to reform the system and work toward the safety, permanency, and well-being of children in care.

Essentially QA for QA, IRR helps Amedee, Gilden, and the rest of the QA team refine their review process, making it even more effective in helping keep the agency accountable to the state’s children and families. IRR gives reviewers a chance to look at how they’re rating items and to see (1) if they’re rating items the same way, and (2) if the rationale they used to reach their conclusion was the same. Amedee noted, moreover, that IRR can be applied just about anywhere and in any discipline, especially when there is a large number of individuals performing the same task.

During his session with Sutphin, Whitaker emphasized implications of the PIP for community partners, who work closely with the agency and who need to know what’s going on in order to support the work the agency does. The Center is one such partner. In fact, Whitaker said the Center “has been an integral part of the agency’s vision of an excellent child welfare system.”

Ultimately, Whitaker is aiming for system reform that goes beyond mere compliance with federal mandates. He says the high standards—including the goal of a 95% success rate for safety, permanency, and well-being—make sense, since the welfare of children and families is at stake.

We thank Sutphin, Amedee, Gilden, and Whitaker for partnering and sharing their knowledge and expertise with the Child Welfare community and other partners at the NASW symposium this year.

Pictured: Malik Whitaker, Continuous Quality Improvement Director (DSS); Brenda Amedee, Senior Program Manager for Quality Assurance (Center); Traci Gilden, Quality Assurance Supervisor (Center); Suzanne Sutphin, Research Assistant Professor (Center)