March is National Professional Social Worker Month. To celebrate, we are thrilled to profile one of Partners for Our Children’s (POC) very special employees, Kathy Brennan, M.S.W. After graduating from Boston University with a degree in mechanical engineering, Kathy had a change of heart in her career path: “I was always drawn to working with kids, especially after I volunteered at a youth helter through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.”
Her enthusiasm to help children led her to pursue her master’s degree in social work at the University of Washington. She began her social work career managing a family support center and then took a position as a program evaluator at the Northwest Institute for Children and Families at the UW School of Social Work.
Eventually she joined the staff of POC as a Project Manager in 2007, where she has watched POC grow and make a profound impact on the child welfare system in Washington.
Kathy’s desire to improve the lives of children and families stems from her knowledge and awareness of system inequities and injustices. “I devoted myself to improving the lives of kids and families in Washington, which makes my career especially rewarding. In my evaluation efforts, I have been inspired by the work of many other dedicated professionals!”
Her efforts have touched and shined in many POC’s realms: Children’s Administration staff and parent surveys, data portal planning, kinship care evaluation and policy efforts, Strive intervention development, and Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence training evaluation work. “I think one of my biggest strengths is my proficiency in using mix methods to evaluate programs and analyze the needs of the child welfare system,” says Kathy.
Kathy’s evaluative skills are evident in her work for the Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence, the training and education hub for child welfare specialists and state-supported caregivers in Washington. She says that she hopes to influence a deeper understanding among child welfare professionals about services and resources that families need most,
Currently, Kathy is serving on the Regional Core Training (RCT) workgroup, where she evaluates feedback from trainees, coaches, supervisors and others on the effectiveness of the RCT program. This six-week program provides hands on, specialized training for child welfare professionals, including coaching and interview simulations. While she says that creating methods of evaluation is quite challenging, her team is actively working to shift from traditional trainee satisfaction surveys and direct feedback to more robust and objective measures of trainee knowledge and skills. Ultimately, the RCT workgroup plays an important role in the successful implementation of this new training program for social service specialists; professionals whose work directly impacts the lives of Washington’s most vulnerable children and families.
Thank you Kathy for your hard work and dedication to enhancing child welfare practices.
We are so lucky to have you on our team!