This session will share how the Office of Youth Empowerment, in strong partnership with the Department of Human Resources, has sustained the highest retention rate at the DC Child & Family Services Agency (CFSA) for the last four years by offering frontline staff (1) alternative work schedules [either 4 day workweeks or 1 day off every 2 weeks], (2) telecommuting [work from home up to 2 days per week], and (3) other supports to augment the success of these strategies [such as improved technology, teambuilding activities, and opportunities for career growth]. Participants will learn about the essential elements of the CFSA’s employee engagement and retention strategies, including their development, implementation, and outcomes, as well as lessons learned and tips for other agencies seeking to better support, engage and retain their own child welfare staff.

Presenters include:

Sarah Thankachan, LICSW, Administrator, Office of Youth Empowerment, DC Child & Family Services Agency. Ms. Thankachan has led the Youth Empowerment team for the past five years, and has close to 11 years of child welfare experience in the District of Columbia, with a primary focus on serving older youth in foster care. She leads a team of 48 employees including case management staff who work directly with older youth in foster care. She is also a 2011 alumni of the NCWWI Leadership Academy for Middle Managers.

Dexter Starkes, Director, Human Resources, DC Child & Family Services Agency. Mr. Starkes has been with the CFSA for nearly five years, serving in the capacity of Employee & Labor Relations Manager before becoming HR Director. Mr. Starkes has 14 years of HR experience and more than 20 years of management experience that he relies upon in managing through both routine and complex HR issues. He has been responsible for implementing employee engagement and retention strategies to support CFSA retention efforts.

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