Public child welfare systems (CWS) in the United States are populated with vulnerable children and families at high risk for negative outcomes, including substance use, risky sexual behavior, delinquency, incarceration, homelessness, and early mortality. Although large knowledge gaps remain regarding strategies to promote change within CWS, opportunities to integrate new interventions and to evaluate their effectiveness have been rare. The R3 Supervisor Strategy was developed to modify the way that the CWS workface supports families toward completing their treatment plans in order to improve system-level outcomes, including permanency, stability, and well-being.

The R3 Supervisor Strategy draws on behavioral principles from evidence-based models developed at the Oregon Social Learning Center. This research has consistently found that positive reinforcement used in interactions between parents and children significantly improves both child and parent outcomes. In R3, this is extended to the interactions between caseworkers and parents. The 3 Rs include: (1) Reinforcement of effort, (2) Reinforcement of relationships and roles, and (3) Reinforcement of small steps. The R3 strategy provides training, consultation, and fidelity monitoring to supervisors.

In addition to the three Rs, the R3 model follows four overarching principles: (1) use strength-focused language, (2) notice normative/appropriate behavior, (3) use a scientific approach (observe and reinforce), and (4) take opportunities to smile and laugh. These principles provide an underlying foundation for the caseworker to facilitate their positive reinforcement to parents in every interaction.

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services is collaborating with OSLC Developments Inc. to integrate the R3 strategy into the Tennessee child welfare system.

Contact Information

If you would like more information about R3, please contact Lisa Saldana, Ph.D. at LisaS@oslc.org.

Saldana, L., Chamberlain, P., & Chapman, J. E. (2016, online first). A supervisor-targeted implementation approach to promote system change: The R3 Model. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research. DOI: 10.1007/s10488-016-0730-9 [PMC: 27003137; NIHMSID 771925] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27003137