Safe & Connected™ Practice Model

KVC's Safe and Connected Model

Safe & Connected™ is a research-informed child welfare practice model that guides teams of professionals in their journey to:

  • Form strong partnerships with vulnerable families
  • Amplify critical thinking
  • Prevent childhood adversity and trauma
  • Promote human resilience
  • Require inclusiveness and advocate to eliminate injustices and social oppression
  • Ensure the safety and wellbeing of every child and family served

The KVC Institute for Health Systems Innovation, powered by KVC Health Systems, has provided consultation, technical assistance, training and development across 14 U.S. states and 7 other countries specific to child welfare transformation designs and positive health outcomes through education specific to adversity, resilience and trauma. Learn more about the KVC Institute here.

Put KVC’s 50 Years of Child Welfare Expertise to Work for You

KVC Health Systems, Inc. is a private nonprofit organization providing services for children, young people and families including foster care, adoption, in-home family therapy, behavioral healthcare, outpatient services and children’s psychiatric hospital care. KVC is accredited by the Joint Commission, the gold standard in healthcare, and has participated in multi-year research studies on trauma-informed care and other topics with the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Child Trends. KVC’s 1,500 professionals work from 33 locations across the U.S. to strengthen individuals and families each day.

Child Welfare Challenges Call for Deep Cultural Transformation

When the KVC Institute provides consultation, technical assistance and professional development, it advances strong direct service and supervision practices, connecting those to practice improvements. This includes:

  • Building infrastructure for collaborative practice: Developing specific forums for decision making, review, practice improvement, family involvement, supervision, critical thinking, and collaboration.
  • Building constructive working relationships: Engagement, interviewing and family involvement approaches to assist in holistic, inclusive assessment, planning and decision making.
  • Critical thinking: The Consultation & Information Sharing Framework  assists in gathering, organizing and analyzing information to institutionalize critical thinking and ensure consistency.
  • Safety planning and family resource/support planning: Assisting supervisors and practitioners to develop/strengthen collaborative, behavior specific family plans and safety plans.
  • Prevention activities organized around improved child health/wellness & wellbeing outcomes: Community engagement in the new narrative around advancing healthy development and childhoods.
  • Promoting and supporting practitioners and supervisors around building expertise: Providing the ingredients for organizations as learning communities.

Safe & Connected™ Is the Path to New Thinking, New Results

The Safe & Connected™ model of practice includes a research-informed framework, engaged assessments based on strengths, needs and risks, analytical decision making in partnership with families and the process of evidence-based practice.

The transformational design proposed by KVC Institute for Health Systems Innovation is built around interactions rather than episodic transactions. The resulting service delivery system will:

  • Be organized around the broader context of health and wellness/well-being.
  • Be child-centered, recognizing children and young people have a right to participate in decisions.
  • Recognize that young people in and emerging from foster care need enduring supports.
  • Recognize that the family is usually the best place for bringing up children and that any difficult decisions will be made with the greatest care, inclusion and deliberation.
  • Help children and families by developing working constructive relationships with them.
  • Implement early help for children recognizing that doing so minimizes the period of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and improves outcomes for them.

Meet the Lead KVC Implementation Team

Headshot for Sue Lohrbach of KVC Health Systems

Dr. Suzanne Lohrbach

Dr. Suzanne Lohrbach has over 35 years of experience in child, adolescent and adult mental health and child protective services. She is the Executive Director for the KVC Institute for Health Systems Innovation. In this role, she works to maximize human potential through the advancement of health and wellness. Specifically, she guides child serving organizations to improve practice and achieve organizational transformation through models that integrate evidence-based assessments, family involvement strategies and trauma-focused interventions. Prior to KVC, Dr. Lohrbach worked at the National Council on Crime and Delinquency Children’s Research Center, the American Humane Association, Olmsted County Child and Family Services in southeastern Minnesota, and Family
Service Rochester. Dr. Lohrbach received her B.A. from Luther College, her M.S. from Winona State University and her PhD in social work (child welfare and youth studies concentrations) at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul. She is licensed in Minnesota as a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker.

Dr Aby Washington Tabron KVC Institute

Dr. Aby Washington Tabron

Dr. Abyssinia Washington Tabron is Director for Well-being and Clinical Practice with the KVC Institute for Health Systems Innovation. She is a clinical psychologist who evaluates and treats children and adolescents who have been victims of trauma. Her primary area of expertise is child abuse, neglect and sexual exploitation. She has served as a professor at the George Washington University’s Forensic Psychology program, an expert witness on child trauma and abuse in courts, and clinical director at a child advocacy center. She is a consultant with the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Youth Opportunities Initiative. In private practice, Dr. Washington provides mental health care for children, adolescents and young adults with severe trauma histories. Dr. Washington earned a Doctorate in clinical psychology from the George Washington University, a master’s of education in counseling psychology from Howard University and a bachelor’s in psychology from Spelman College.

Safe & Connected In the News

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Learn More

If you or your organization is interested in learning more about how KVC uses Safe & Connected or how it can help your agency help children and families, contact Sue Lohrbach at