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Episode 193: Influencing Policy and Practices in Foster Care (w/ Danika Briggs)

By July 24, 2023July 25th, 2023Podcast

Agency workers are the first responders of the foster care community. They are among the first to meet a child, they are keepers of that child’s history, and they know firsthand the needs that often go unmet. With many agencies experiencing unprecedented employee turnover, the challenges facing agency workers continue to increase as they experience secondary traumatic stress, lack of resources, and underappreciation.

Danika Briggs has been a close friend and worked with one of our TFI Advocates in Virginia for many years! She has been in social services for over 20 years and is the Assistant Director for Family Services at the Chesterfield-Colonial Heights Department of Social Services in Virginia. Danika plays a vital leadership role in overseeing child welfare programs at their social service agency and also helps resource and encourage agency workers overall.

In today’s episode, Danika shares how partnerships with organizations like TFI can have an impact on the agency workers and the current challenges they are facing.

(Don’t forget that through the month of August, a generous donor has offered a matching grant up to $20,000! Join Team 3:10 today.)


1. Look for opportunities to help on the hard days.

Just like foster parents and children in foster care, agency workers have hard days too. This may be due to the stress of heavy caseloads or experiencing secondary traumatic stress. One of the best ways you can support agency workers is by building relationships with them and offering encouragement on their hard days. Through a partnership with TFI, we have been able to provide a special room for agency workers to rest, recover, and rejuvenate throughout their day. This is just one way that we find ways to help them on their hardest days.

“We see you. We know this isn’t easy, you are not here alone…that reminder just to let folks know that we are here, we are a partner, just call on us.”

2. Surround yourself with different perspectives and support.

Regardless of your role in the foster care community, we need to be surrounded by a community of people from different perspectives. We know that there is nothing “traditional” or “standard” about foster care. Each situation is unique and offers its own challenges. By finding a community outside of the formal process, we can ensure that we have a vast array of perspectives and insight on whatever you may be encountering.

“They created a sense of community so that when those tough times came you knew who you could call on.”

3. Agency workers need support and encouragement.

Many agency workers don’t have access to enough resources to meet specific needs outside of the normal scope of the foster care system. Some would choose to dip into their own pockets in order to meet a specific need or to celebrate a special event in a child’s life. The intense workload and the strain of their position have led to the average length of a child welfare worker’s career being shortened by more than half in recent years. Each time an agency worker leaves, it increases the workload on the remaining agency workers and creates disconnection between the families in the foster care community. By partnering with agency workers, we can provide resources, care, and appreciation to those workers.

“While it has been a challenge in child welfare over the years, where we would say the average length of a child welfare worker is between two and a half to three years, now it might be a year if that. The work is challenging.”



We hope this episode has helped you wherever you are on your foster care journey. That’s the goal! If so, will you tell others?

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Meet Our Guest

Danika Briggs is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and Assistant Director for Family Services at the Chesterfield-Colonial Heights Department of Social Services in Virginia. Her responsibilities include Child Protective Services, Foster Care, Adoption, Adult Services, Family Preservation, Employment Services, and Assessment & Resources. With over 20 years in social services, Danika has led agency-wide initiatives to promote trauma-informed care, enhance employee engagement, and staff resiliency. She serves on a number of committees on both county and state levels focused on improving outcomes for youth and families. Danika is the proud mother of a 14-year-old son.

Foster Parents, check with your agency to see if listening to this podcast will count toward your foster care training hours!

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