Coping in the Time of COVID: Evidence-Informed Strategies to Support YOU & the Child Welfare Workforce

This webinar features QIC-WD team members who research and practice in the fields of marriage and family therapy and social work (see their bios below). It was recorded on May 6, 2020 and breaks down the research into useful tips for frontline workers, supervisors, managers, parents, and child welfare administrators who want to support themselves and the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. Presenters discuss our natural psychological reactions to pandemics, explain how the stress impacts us individually and collectively, and share concrete coping techniques and strategies to manage relationships at home. We hope that this webinar leaves participants better informed and with a renewed sense of hope as we all experience this shift in roles, worries, and responsibilities together.


  Becky Antle, Ph.D., MSSW, LMFT is Professor, University Scholar, and the Director of the Center for Family and Community Well-Being. Currently, Dr. Antle is the PI on nine small grants and contracts through the Center on child welfare, trauma, mental health, and program evaluation, as well as Co-PI or evaluator on large grants funded by the Office of Family Assistance (focused on fatherhood), NIH (one grant focused on dissemination of computer-assisted cognitive behavioral therapy in primary care and a new grant focused on toxicology and environmental health), and SAMHSA (the Center for Promoting Recovery and Resilience of Traumatized Children and Youth). She is also on the QIC-WD evaluation team. For the past 23 years, she has been involved in research on evidence-based practice, violence prevention (child maltreatment, domestic and dating violence), relationship education, solution-based child welfare practice, the impact of domestic violence on children, comorbidities of child maltreatment, and training/evaluation issues in human services. As a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist she also has a private practice and utilizes the skills included in today’s webinar with her clients.

  Anita P. Barbee, Ph.D., MSSW is Professor and Distinguished University Scholar at the Kent School of Social Work, Center for Family and Community Well-Being at the University of Louisville. Her Ph.D. is from the University of Georgia in Social Psychology with a minor in Child and Family Studies. Dr. Barbee has worked with child welfare systems in Kentucky and across the nation for the past 28 years. She served on the Medically Fragile team in Jefferson County, KY executing everything from investigations to adoptions. Her research and consulting work has enhanced the experience of the workforce to increase retention, create trauma informed cultures, and improve practice with families. She is a co-founder of the Multidisciplinary Symposium on Childhood Trauma in Louisville which helped the Kent School gain funding for a Tier III Trauma Center from SAMHSA (2012-2021). She is also currently the lead evaluator for the QIC-WD. In addition, she studies the formation and maintenance of close relationships, is President of the International Association for Relationship Research, and for the past 15 years has been delivering and studying the impact of a healthy relationship curriculum, Love Notes, aimed at high risk youth to prevent dating violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, teen pregnancy, and suicide. Most of this work has focused on 4,200 local youth residing in neighborhoods with concentrated poverty as well as youth involved in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, homeless and runaway youth, refugee and immigrant youth and LGBTQIA youth.

Andrew Winters, Ph.D., MSW, is an Assistant Professor at the University of Louisville Kent School of Social Work and on the Advisory Board of the Center for Family and Community Well-Being. Dr. Winters has 17 years of clinical practice experience, 15 years of academic teaching experience, and 7 years of research experience, and brings a direct application of practice to his social work research and teaching. His research trajectory developed from his practice experience. He worked with marginalized and diverse populations for most of his practice career, and from a micro level saw gaps regarding service delivery. This experience led him to pursue a PhD in order to inform service provision within child serving systems. His research questions focus attention on the relative effectiveness of different types of services provided through behavioral health, juvenile justice, and child welfare systems to children and adolescents involved in these systems. His overarching question is what works, under which circumstances. Dr. Winters is a member of the QIC-WD evaluation team.

Mark Ells, JD LLM (UNL-CCFL), has been a trainer, team consultant, and group facilitator at the national, state, and local levels for more than 20 years, and worked with interdisciplinary child protection teams in several states for nearly 30 years. He has trained a variety of audiences about child abuse and neglect, the law impacting children and youth, and how various professions can effectively work together to protect children. As Director of the National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse and PI/Director of MCWIC, he worked with state and tribal child welfare agencies to assess organizational needs and design interventions to address those needs. Mr. Ells is currently an Implementation Consultant for the Capacity Building Center for States and on the Implementation Team for the QIC-WD.


Lisa Merkel-Holguin, MSW (U. of Colorado-Denver, Kempe Center) has over 25 years of experience in identifying, developing, and implementing innovative reforms in child welfare systems, particularly in areas of child safety and permanency. She competently transfers research and evaluation findings into child welfare practice with national and international implications. With her expertise in implementation and capacity building, she has supported the installation of numerous evidence-based/-informed innovations in agencies in over 40 states. As a PI and senior research analyst, she led numerous evaluations in child welfare, including three Family Connection grants, child abuse prevention programs, and the National QIC on Differential Response. She currently serves as an Organizational and Waiver Consultant for the Capacity Building Center for States. As Implementation Lead, she coordinates the efforts of the QIC-WD Implementation Team.

Penny Putnam-Collins, MPA has more than 30 years of experience in child welfare practice, administration, training, program evaluation, and research. Throughout her career, her focus has been on best practice, the engagement of families, a well-trained child welfare workforce, and multi-disciplinary partnerships to ensure child safety and improved well-being for children and families. Her experience includes frontline casework and supervision, county administration, conducting State quality assurance reviews, and serving as the lead State child welfare trainer. Joining ICF in 2008, she was assigned to the Child Welfare Monitoring Project for the Federal Child and Family Services Reviews round 2. As Program Manager with Child Welfare Information Gateway, she was responsible for the content development of the Family Engagement Inventory microsite, interviewing and writing reports on various Children’s Bureau discretionary grant projects, and was the subject matter expert for various website sections and tasks, and the researcher and primary author of four Reports to Congress. As Senior Manager of Child Welfare Strategic Initiatives for Information Gateway, she supervised a team of child welfare subject matter experts, the development of strategic partnerships, and audience engagement. She now is an Implementation Specialist with the QIC-WD.