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Specialist Certification

A new specialist’s Child Welfare journey consists of 3 Phases during which the specialist is assigned a gradual caseload and upon completion of the third Phase, is considered Certified. Here is that process broken down by Phase:

Phase 1

Attend CORE Modules 1-6.

Module 6 contains a simulated interviewing experience. This is where the specialist will complete an adult and child interview. They will also be required to identify and articulate if a safety threat exists in an AOCS and navigate through a KIDS scenario.

The AOCS and KIDS are assessed with a finding of Meets Standards or Needs Improvement. The interviews are assessed with a finding of Ready or Not Yet Ready.

Specialists who receive a Ready on their interviews will move to their required post-CORE level trainings, which immediately follow Module 6.

Specialists who receive a Not Yet Ready on one or both of their interviews need more support before moving on to their post-CORE level trainings. In order to support their development, they will return to their county office and work with their supervisor for a minimum of two weeks to 30 days. During this time, the specialist will complete 3 interviews in the area they received a NYR. If the specialist receives a NYR on both adult and child interviews, they would be required to complete 3 adult interviews and 3 child interviews.  Once the supervisor determines the specialist is developmentally ready to proceed, the supervisor will send all grade sheets, the Coaching Plan and the Certification Document to the training unit. The specialist will then be enrolled in their post-CORE level trainings.

Following the completion of Modules 1-6 and all post- CORE level trainings, the specialist is considered to be “Provisionally Certified” and eligible for a 50% caseload. This completes Phase 1.

Phase 2

During Phase 2, the specialist is adjusting to the pace of their workload and their supervisor continues to assist with their overall development, especially related to interviewing. This process is designed to occur over a 90 day period. In addition, a coaching plan is created by the supervisor and the specialist.

Please see the CORE Companion Guide for Coaching Plan examples and specific requirements for Phase 2. Observation tools and the Certification Document are linked below.

Phase 3

Phase 3 requires the same process as Phase 2; however, only 7 total interview observations are required. Once the documentation is received by the training unit, the specialist is eligible for a full caseload (100%) and completes Phase 3. This is when the specialist is considered to be Certified.

Please see the CORE Companion Guide for specific requirements for Phase 3. Observation tools and the Certification Document are linked below.


All reinstated employees, regardless of how long they were gone from the agency need to be assessed by their supervisor to determine what training is needed prior to obtaining a caseload. The Training Unit is available to discuss options for training.

At minimum, all reinstated employees will be required to attend Module 6: Putting It All Together Simulation experience in order for their Engagement, Interviewing, and Assessment skills to be assessed. Reinstatements will complete a Child Interview, an Adult Interview, and the AOCS certification.

Because of the emphasis on using basic Motivational Interviewing skills, the Training Unit recommends that the reinstated employee attend Module 3: Interviewing for Safety, Permanency, and Well-being.

Following the Simulation and AOCS Certification, the training unit will complete the annotation and provide the supervisor with any required level training recommendations.

If a reinstated employee receives an assessment of Not Yet Ready, their training plan will be created on a case by case basis. The intent is to provide more specific training based on the assessment findings. The supervisor and training unit will determine this plan.

Any additional recommendations will be made on a case by case basis.

Please Note: The Reinstatement Plan indicated here may change following the pilot of CORE. We want to be thoughtful and intentional about reinstated employees, while also considering any skill gaps based on the updated curriculum.

Resource Documents:

Specialist Certification Grading Sheets