DCYF Supervisors Conference educates and inspires
Nearly 300 supervisors and management professionals from the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families gathered Aug. 20 and 21 at the Hotel Murano in downtown Tacoma for the annual Supervisors Conference, two days of inspiring content and informative breakouts.
This year’s event, “Managing Change: Vision to Action,” commenced with a moving welcome by Connie McCloud, a Puyallup tribal elder and the director of culture. She spoke about how violence has affected those around her and ended her presentation with a traditional prayer. It set the tone for the event, priming the audience to find a sense of community.
Following McCloud, the three moderators took to the stage to truly kick off the programming. Heather West, Debi Gregory and Fina Taai represented the three branches that have recently come together as DCYF, each speaking a little about their personal work and the opportunity to make new connections at the conference.
They were followed by a welcome address from Secretary Ross Hunter, who spoke to attendees about the agency’s vision and how he plans for change and growth, while also acknowledging challenges that are currently affecting supervisors and their colleagues. It was a unique opportunity for the audience to hear directly the agency leader discuss his perspective and insight.
The first day was anchored by sessions on change management and social justice. The themes brought up in both presentations called out to real-world issues facing supervisors and ultimately all social workers in the practice today. After lunch, the attendees broke into breakouts, a series of six smaller workshops that focused on specific areas: HR, communications, strategic planning, tribal relations and feedback approaches. The format allowed for more open conversations and Q-and-A, taking some of the topics addressed from the podium and giving opportunities to dive deeper.
On the Debriefing breakout, "I am looking forward to a full training in this new way of providing feedback. I feel it is a move in the right direction for supervision," one attendee said.
The second day was packed with high-profile plenary speakers: Frank Ordway, DCYF director of government affairs and community engagement, on government relations and his hopeful outlook; Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell on his personal history in foster care; and Clever Jam Communications Founder Jamerika Haynes on her story of navigating challenges and how to lift up children in foster care. All three of these speakers earned standing ovations for their emotional and impactful presentations.
Cornell gave an "excellent presentation on how one person could go through so much adversity, yet become successful," one attendee said.
The DCYF leadership team also took the stage on the second day to participate in a Q-and-A session, answering questions sourced from the audience on day one that included topics on pay equity, troubleshooting, how to use data, upcoming policy changes and ways to foster more open communication among agency employees. Attendees brought up challenging topics that the panel didn’t shy away from.
The conference set the stage for even more successful events in the future, and it will continually strive to fulfill its value proposition to support and inspire the supervisors in their monumentally important work.