Sneak Peek: Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians' (EBCI) Onboarding Manuals for Employees and Supervisors

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) Family Safety Program (FSP) developed a new 5-week onboarding process for new social workers. Drawing upon available research and best practice, the QIC-WD worked with FSP to create the multipronged onboarding program that includes written materials, videos, supervisor supports, tours, and shadowing. Weeks 1 and 2 orient new workers to the organizational structure, mission, purpose, philosophy, and practice of FSP and provide an introduction to Cherokee culture through various activities. Weeks 3 through 5 involve learning about each of the team units within FSP by reading and answering questions about relevant sections of policy, following a fictional family through their case, and completing shadowing activities with workers from each team. This blog post provides a sneak peek into different aspects of the manual.


The cultural videos are a key component of the content for Weeks 1 and 2. Ms. Grant-Edgemon and Mr. Belt are featured in the videos. They are recognized in their community for the training they provide (see bios). Although workers will receive supplemental training on Cherokee culture throughout their tenure at FSP, these training videos were created to ensure that new workers receive the important messages about Cherokee culture immediately.

Each week, workers review relevant sections of agency policy and answer comprehension and reflection questions. This adult learning approach encourages active processing of the information. Practice notes provide important information about agency procedures and practice to supplement information provided in policy.


In Week 3, workers are introduced to a fictional family that they follow through case closure. Workers review narrative descriptions and agency forms about the family’s case and then answer reflection questions that incorporate knowledge from the sections of policy they have read.

An integral part of the onboarding program is shadowing workers from each of FSP’s five team units (Intake & Investigations, Family Integrity Preservation, Integrated Child Welfare Team, ICWA, and Adult Protective Services). The purpose of shadowing is to learn about the tasks involved in the job and to build relationships across teams.

The supervisor manual provides guidance for the weekly meetings between the new social worker and their supervisor to discuss onboarding activities and progress. Regular check-ins, especially in the first few weeks of employment, set the foundation for a strong working relationship. The weekly check-ins involve asking the worker about their reactions to what they are learning and addressing any barriers they may have encountered. It provides an opportunity for the worker to ask questions and serves as a reminder for the supervisor to assist with scheduling activities for the coming week. During these meetings, the worker is also provided with a handout of the answers to the knowledge questions they completed during the previous week, to ensure they have accurate information to refer back to. Below is a sample of the guidance provided for one of the weekly check-ins.

The QIC-WD will study the process and outcomes of implementing the new onboarding program through surveys and interviews. We hope to learn whether new staff learn the values, structure, and philosophies of FSP; understand their job expectations; are aware of the history and culture of the Cherokee people; feel socially integrated with their colleagues; develop a supportive relationship with their supervisor; and ultimately experience job satisfaction and stay in their job.

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