Pre-Service Training for Child Welfare Professionals

PST Training Schedule

PST Training Schedule


Pre-service is a 6 week, 77 hour training course developed to provide knowledge, understanding, and opportunities to practice skills that are vital to the success of child welfare professionals.  Child welfare professionals hired by the Maryland Department of Human Services (DHS) learn about the history of child abuse, federal and state regulations, engagement skills, culturally competent and family-centered practice, as well as the judicial framework of child welfare.  They are expected to develop and expand techniques of interviewing, engaging clients, as well as completing formal and informal assessments.  The course is blended and includes classroom as well as online assignments. In addition, participants attend training on the Maryland automated child welfare case management system, MD CHESSIE, which is integrated through the modules.  At the end of the course, participants are required to take a Competency Exam required by Maryland Department of Human Services.

Pre-Service Module 1 Activity

Pre-Service Module 1 Activity

Pre-Service Registration for DHS/DSS Personnel Liaisons:

For more information about the Pre-service Training registration process, CLICK HERE to access our Personnel Liaison Tip Sheet.

CLICK HERE to see the dates for the next Pre-Service Training offerings.

The registration process requires a specific login, if you do not have it, please contact

To learn more about any of the Modules, click on the module titles below:

Module 1: Foundations of Practice
Module 1 introduces participants to child welfare history, the legal context for child welfare, values and principles, and an overview of the Maryland DHS structure and its relationship to the Local Departments of Social Services (LDSS). Participants are given an introduction to relevant Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) that will be revisited in later modules. Lastly, the participants will examine culturally competent practice that includes opportunities to enhance self-exploration as well as how to be culturally sensitive in everyday practice.

Module 2: Indicators and Dynamics of Abuse and Neglect and Three Contributing Factors
In Module 2, participants learn the definitions of child abuse and neglect as well as the dynamics and indicators of maltreatment within a family. This module reviews three contributing factors to maltreatment: mental health issues, domestic violence, and substance use/abuse. Participants explore ways to engage and work with families who are struggling with these factors as well as how to continuously assess for safety.

Module 3: Engaging Children and Families
During this module, participants learn how to engage and conduct interviews with families. Participants are provided various opportunities to practice utilizing different types of questions and strategies based on the situation. Additionally, participants learn about the process of change and how to motivate families to improve service plan outcomes.

Module 4: Family Centered Assessments
This module teaches a framework to assess for safety and risk. Trainees complete several different types of assessment tools such as the SAFE-C and MRFA. They will continue to learn about and apply the techniques such as interviewing, observation, and compiling information to have the clearest picture of family safety and functioning. Worker safety is also discussed in this module, reviewing techniques and tips to be safe while working with families who can sometimes be hostile.

Module 5: Planning with the Family
The information presented within this module examines how families deal with loss and grieving and provides an overview of how to plan with families in an engaged partnership. Participants have the opportunity to learn about Family Involvement Meetings as part of the planning process and participate in a mock FIM. Trainees discuss the different aspects of the planning process and develop a plan with a fictional family including identification of underlying needs and conditions, effective goals and objectives as well as services, tasks, and timeframes. Also covered in this module is effective documentation and closing a case/terminating a relationship with a family.

Module 6: Working Effectively with the Court
This module introduces the participants to the role of the court in child welfare cases, the types of juvenile court interventions and hearings, the role of agency counsel, child’s attorney, parents’ attorney, CASA, and master/judge in the legal process. The provisions of Federal legislation, particularly the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 are addressed in detail, focusing on timelines for permanency. Participants learn the types of permanency plans and the role of the court in achieving permanency. Participants learn the role of the child welfare worker as a witness in court proceedings and have an opportunity to be videotaped while testifying as a “witness” in a mock child welfare case. Following group review of the testimony, they are given structured feedback by the instructor and fellow participants.

All pre-service participants attend the four day CHESSIE training. MD CHESSIE is DHR’s automated child welfare case management, tracking and information system. Participants learn how to navigate the system as well the purpose and importance of a data management system in child welfare.