The first-ever Safety Culture Summit provided an unprecedented opportunity for child welfare leaders to present strategies, tools and tactics that promote safe, reliable and effective care. Held earlier this month in Nashville, TN, the summit also demonstrated what to expect from the growing partnership from Casey Family Programs, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, and Vanderbilt University Center of Excellence for Children in State Custody (COE).

For two days, 148 people across 26 agencies and organizations met at Vanderbilt University. The packed agenda featured speakers who created various safety culture resources, and additional work sessions to plan a multi-jurisdiction Quality Improvement Collaborative (QIC) focused on improving team culture. Speakers included Bryan Samuels and Michael Cull from Chapin Hall, Bonnie Hommrich from TN DCS, David Sanders and Zeinab Chahine from Casey Family Programs, and Jerry Hickson, Tim Vogus, and Jon Ebert from Vanderbilt. Visit summit to learn more about the presenters and view their slides.


Bonnie Hommrich, Commissioner for TN DCS, kicked off the summit with an engaging account of the changes Tennessee has seen in efforts to better serve children in care. Casey Family Programs shared their message of HOPE by emphasizing the evolution of care over the last 50 years and charting a path for the next 50 years. And Bryan Samuels, Executive Director at Chapin Hall, reinforced the CORE of safety culture and how to build a framework based on strong partnerships around experience, collaboration, and rigor.

Bonnie Hommrich, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services


The team poster session was more than a display of past research; it highlighted the vast amount of tools and resources available to all who attended the conference. These tools include:

Jacklyn Anderson and Chuck Arms sharing their poster, “Reducing Team Stress”

Other tools developed and used in Tennessee include the Safe Systems Improvement Tool (SSIT), the TeamFirst ToolKit, and more. Additional resources can be found at  LeadTeamFirst is a community of practitioners, leaders, researchers, and policy-makers who are committed to improving safety and reliability in professional child welfare.


The first ever TN Safety Culture Summit would not have been possible without the support of the four key partners. These organizations are vital to the work done in safety culture and will continue to be an essential element in the advancements made in child welfare.


For more information on this tool and to learn more about the Safety Culture Summit, respond in the comments below or reach out to Michael Cull,

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