Evaluation of the New York City Home Rebuilders Demonstration. 2.5.4 Training

09/14/1998

Training was most prevalent during the first year of the demonstration. To orient the staff to the HomeRebuilders program, in June 1993 a training conference was held at Fordham University to kickoff the project. Individuals from each of the six agencies attended. A general session was held to teach staff members how to complete the assessment tool that was to be completed for each family in the experimental and comparison group. Also, a variety of workshops were offered at the conference including:

  • Quality Management
  • Family Network Intervention
  • Family Centered Empowerment
  • Family Practice
  • How to Identify and Locate Community Resources
  • Involving Foster Parents in Building Partnerships To Reunify Families
  • Visitation-A Central Theme in HomeRebuilders
  • When is a Family Ready for Reunification?
  • The Effective Use of Self To Empower Families

Approximately one year later, there was a second joint training session for all of the agencies. This training session was designed to boost morale and to emphasize important constructs of the HomeRebuilders model. In addition, each agency held training sessions for its staff and in conjunction with other agencies involved in the project. Some of the topics included cultural diversity and impact on multicultural families, conflict resolution and team building, working with disorganized families, separation and loss, and working with medically fragile children.

During the interviews, one agency administrator spoke about the importance of time management skills for his administrative staff.Another agency gave a detailed description of the types of training sessions that it held at the beginning of the program. The administrator stated that individuals from the Annie E. Casey Foundation led some of the training sessions and that information from the book Teaching Family Reunification:  A Sourcebook (Child Welfare League of America) was used. Another agency received training from the Child Welfare Institute (CWI) in Georgia.

The following list contains the topics mentioned by all of the participants. It demonstrates the breadth of topics covered and reflects an emphasis on improving a wide variety of staff skills. The topics were taken from several different family service models (e.g., Oregon Model, CWI).

  • The importance of visitation
  • The belief that children could go home
  • Defined family reunification
  • Review of family therapy techniques
  • How to provide good casework by utilizing local resources
  • Techniques that promote trust between the family and caseworker
  • Assessment and interviewing techniques
  • How to conduct a family service plan review
  • How to provide aftercare
  • What permanency planning means to children
  • Visitation as a training tool
  • How to involve foster parents
  • How to interview substance abusers
  • Time management skills
  • HomeRebuilders philosophy
  • Team building
  • Access to entitlements
  • Case management
  • Case planning
  • Stress management
  • Family consciousness training based on the Oregon Model

Table 2-4 describes the level and type of training that was held at each agency. As shown, two of the agencies held mainly joint training sessions for their administrators and caseworkers. Among the other agencies, the proportion of training time administrators spent on administrative issues was approximately one-third to three-fourths of the session time, while caseworkers spent the majority of their training session time on client issues (approximately 65 to 85 percent of their training time).

Table 2-4.  Frequency and focus of HomeRebuilders training sessions

Agency Attendants Focus Frequency
Harlem Dowling Mainly separate sessions for caseworkers and supervisors Majority of time for each group was spent on casework issues

Remaining time on administrative issues

Twice a month for at least the first two years

Then approximately 1 time per month

Little Flower Mainly joint sessions for caseworkers and supervisors Majority of time was spent on casework issues

Remaining time on policy and philosophy

Every other week initially until all HomeRebuilders topics were covered (3-4 months)

Then 1 time per month for remainder of first year

Then as needed mainly for new staff

New York Foundling Mainly separate sessions for caseworkers and supervisors Caseworkers spent approximately 25% of time on administrative issues and 75% time on casework issues

Administrators spent approximately 33% on administrative issues and 66% on casework issues

Caseworkers trained 1 day per month 

Administrators trained at least one day per month

Miracle Makers Mainly separate sessions for caseworkers and supervisors Caseworkers spent approximately 15% of time on administrative issues and 85% of time on casework issues

Supervisors spent approximately 75% of time on administrative issues and 25% of time on casework issues

During first year joint meetings with caseworkers and supervisors were held weekly or biweekly

Training sessions were held October, November, and December 1993; April, May, June, August and November 1994. 

St. Christopher­Ottilie Mainly joint sessions for caseworkers and supervisors Mostly conducting reviews, team building, and accessing services Once per month at agency plus outside training
St. Christopher­Jennie Clarkson Blend of separate and co-sessions for caseworkers and supervisors during first year. After that, trained based on staff needs Caseworkers spent at least 70% of time on casework issues and less than 30% on administrative issues

Supervisors spent at least 60% of time on administrative issues

Caseworkers and administrators met weekly during first year

Second and third year as needed

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