Juvenile Reentry Programs: Providing Program Training

Train Your Team

  • Overview

    SupportTraining is an important part of implementing a new program. Training sessions can help staff and personnel involved in reentry efforts become more comfortable with the idea of starting a new program, by giving them a chance to ask questions and address their concerns. Training can ensure that everyone involved in the program has a shared understanding about the goals and objectives of reentry services, how to implement the main components of the program, and what their individual roles and responsibilities will be.

    This section provides information on the importance of conducting initial and booster training to staff members involved in reentry efforts. You can also find guidance on the range of issues requiring consideration, resources, time commitments, and which staff members to include in the training.

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  • Steps to Take: Lessons Learned from the Research

    Steps to Take:  Lessons Learned from the Research

    Invest in training.

    • Conduct initial training at the outset of the program and provide immediate training upon hiring new staff.
    • Recognize the importance of providing booster training.

    Consider who will be trained.

    • Ensure training for staff members and personnel who are directly involved in the implementation of the program.

    Integrate training practices into standard operation procedures.

    • Develop program manuals or documents, and revise as needed.
    • Contact the program developer (if there is one) for more information on the program.
    • Consider the time commitment of program training.
    • Recognize that staff may need additional time to learn material outside of formal training.
    • Invest in Training

      You will need to train all program staff, including case managers, treatment service providers, parole or probation officers, and residential facility personnel. They will likely be the ones to implement the reentry program.

      • Conduct initial training at the outset of the program and provide immediate training upon hiring new staff. Training ensures that staff members are prepared for and capable of implementing a reentry program. For example, the Juvenile Justice Assessment Planning Referral Placement (JARPP) program is a juvenile supervision model that focuses on the roles and responsibilities of probation case managers and equips them with the necessary tools for proper community supervision. An experienced trainer was hired during the planning stages of the program to develop the curriculum and then conduct a 3-day training on JARPP elements (assessment, ongoing case planning, and service referral). The initial training equipped staff with an understanding of the programmatic goals, knowledge of expectations for daily operations, how to use program instruments, and an opportunity to rehearse or practice implementing the program.

        Training is especially important to remember in regard to staff turnover. For example, when the Boys and Girls Club of America’s Targeted Reentry Initiative in Anchorage, Alaska, experienced a significant amount of staff turnover during the initial stages of implementation, a need for additional training emerged. In such circumstances, training (as consistent with the quality of training provided at the outset of a program’s implementation) can cover information that was taught during the initial training, help new staff members catch up on their roles and responsibilities, and address challenges or lessons learned that emerged during the implementation.

      • Recognize the importance of providing booster training. While initial training is important, ongoing booster trainings can be incorporated as a standard component of the program design or scheduled as needed. For example, the Multisystemic Therapy–Family Integrated Transition (MST-FIT) program in Washington State offers a booster training each month for FIT coaches and supervisors. These trainings are designed to enhance coach skill sets and to address any challenges the teams are experiencing month to month. Topics may include additional therapeutic techniques, such as dialectical behavior therapy or motivational interviewing, therapist adherence to the treatment model, and cultural engagement strategies. Such booster training may be needed, if issues in the implementation process are identified and need to be addressed, or if part of the original program design is changed in any way.

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    • Consider Who Will Be Trained

      It is important to consider the agencies, departments, and staff members and personnel who may be affected by the implementation of a reentry program and would benefit from training.

      • Ensure training for staff members and personnel who are directly involved in the implementation of the program. The type of reentry program being implemented will determine the type of training needed and which staff members will need to be trained. For example, because many of the participants in the Gang Intervention Treatment Reentry Development for Youth (GitRedy) have experienced some form of trauma, program staff are trained in the delivery of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). Conversely, a transition specialist primarily implements Project Support’s prerelease services for youth in their reentry program. As a result, transition specialists are trained on the service model and then are provided continuous technical assistance as their caseloads increase.

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    • Integrate Training Practices into Standard Operating Procedures

      Whether you are still selecting a specific reentry program to implement, or planning on how to start a program already identified, you need to remember to integrate training into standard operating procedures for managers and frontline staff. Consider, in advance, all the resources and time commitments that may be required to train all the individuals involved in the reentry program.

      • Develop program manuals or documents, and revise as needed. Program manuals give form to staff roles and responsibilities and to a program’s service delivery model. For example, Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach (A-CRA) assigns a case manager, for 90 days, to link youth discharged from a residential treatment facility to services. Case managers receive two manuals: 1) an outlined case management and home-based approach, and 2) an A-CRA manual. These documents introduce staff to program principles and outline procedures for each client session, such as how to conduct a functional analysis of behaviors and social activities, use participant self-assessments to develop treatment goals, and discuss communication and problem-solving skills with youth and their families.

        When necessary, periodically review and refine program documents to reflect programmatic changes or provide greater specification on goals or procedures. For example, because ongoing evaluations and subsequent recommendations led to changes in the objectives and curriculum of Project BUILD (Building Urban Involvement through Leadership Development) lesson plans, other documents were revised to address changes to the timing and structure of the program.

      • Contact the program developer (if there is one) for more information on the program. Many manualized programs have program developers who can provide specific information about trainings. When available, the Model Programs Guide provides contact information for program developers, program directors, and training and technical assistance providers, on the respective program’s profile.

      • Consider the time commitment of program training. The amount of time required for training will depend on the type of reentry program being implemented. The JARPP program, highlighted above, held a 3-day training on the three elements of their program: assessment, ongoing case planning, and service referral. The A-CRA held a 2-day training and role-play seminar for therapists on the A-CRA’s therapeutic techniques. Other programs or components of a program may not require as much training. For example, in addition to the overall program training, the Sex Offender Treatment Unit at the Illinois Youth Center at Harrisburg allotted a 2-hour training to one component of their program, the therapeutic community, to ensure that staff understood and could put into practice this concept.

      • Recognize that staff may need additional time to learn material outside of formal training. Even when training has been provided, depending on the types of treatments or assessment tools, there may be a significant learning curve. For example, post-implementation evaluations of the Skillman Intensive Aftercare Program (IAP) suggested that aftercare staff may not have been as effective in working with the first group of youth in their program, as they were with subsequent participants. One possible explanation for this outcome is that the learning process can vary from person to person, and that program staff may have still been learning their functions. Thus, it is important to build in time to allow program staff to become acclimated to the program when assessing its effectiveness in subsequent outcome evaluations.

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