In today's fast-paced world, justice professionals must stay up-to-date with the latest industry developments and best practices to effectively serve their communities. As their roles evolve, maintaining a high level of knowledge and expertise becomes crucial. However, professionals in the justice field often find themselves juggling multiple responsibilities while trying to accommodate ongoing education and training. The key to successfully maintaining their professional edge lies in the consistent implementation of well-rounded and multi-faceted learning experiences throughout one's career. As we explore the significance of continuous education and training in the realm of justice, let's delve into how adopting personalized and diverse learning approaches, and even tools can empower professionals to excel in their roles while benefiting their organizations as a whole.
Continuous Education and Training for Justice Professionals
Training is a regular part of the job for justice professionals and, in many cases, a required expectation. Many of the training and education requirements are identified by leaders within an organization; others are legislated and/or mandated by policymakers. Regardless of the origin of the training requirement, the ability to improve and strengthen one’s organization is stronger when equipped with evidence-based continuous education, training, and tools.
Proactively frontloading employees with the training needed to do their jobs, similar to basic training in the military, prepares them for the tasks expected of them throughout their careers. From new employee orientation to basic certification, early training experiences are a great way to inform new employees of your organization's expectations.
Once staff are properly onboarded, keeping them engaged through continuous education and training benefits them, their colleagues, and the people they serve. Fortunately, learning can happen in many ways. The VARK model of learning details four ways that most people learn:
- Read/Write—reading and writing
- Kinesthetic—doing/first-hand experience
The main premise of the VARK model is that while we all have a desire to learn, our learning styles often differ. Providing training in various formats empowers employees to engage in a learning style that works best for them. When employees have a choice in their professional development, their organizational buy-in increases. Additionally, participation in continuous education and training:
- Keeps skills fresh
- Increases knowledge and retention
- Builds employee confidence and workplace satisfaction
- Raises overall performance
- Reduces inconsistencies in the deployment of practices and procedures.
Beyond “Ticking the Box”
A lot of training that justice professionals participate in is routine and required for recertification or compliance. Whether an employee is self-selecting a professional development opportunity or fulfilling annual training requirements, keeping training ‘fresh’ and relevant is as important to those providing the training as it is for those receiving it.
Intentional, structured, and regular quality reviews of continuous education, training, and tools ensure agencies are not just “ticking the training box.” With a proper review, organizations can better identify effective learning styles, eliminate outdated training modules, reinforce evidence-based practices, and identify and redirect ineffective practices. All of these efforts strengthen the organization and the employees within the organization, which, in turn, improves outcomes for people with justice involvement.
Regular quality reviews also help inform an organization’s current and future budgetary needs specific to continuous education, training, and tools.
As a supervisor, assessing training and employee performance typically go hand-in-hand. In addition to proactively assigning training to support an employee’s professional development, supervisors can also use training responsively when incidents indicate specific employee training may be necessary. Supervisors who regularly participate in and encourage continuous education and training demonstrate to their teams that they value learning and the individual doing the learning. One way to do that is through the Supervisor's EBP BriefCASE, a great booster curriculum to help facilitate regular reinforcement of EBP training, amplifying a team's professional development.
Another useful tool is the Carey Guides Continuous Quality Improvement Kit, a tool that not only guides supervisors in providing staff with specific and direct feedback, but also aids in identifying training needs, providing processes and structures to encourage incremental skill improvements. The kit includes three distinct tools to improve outcomes derived from the use of the Carey Guides:
- Client Feedback Survey
- Carey Guides Case Audit Checklist
- Carey Guides Direct Observation Checklist
Innovative Cognitive Tools
From the web-based platforms utilized for delivering training to the cognitive-based tools used to support behavior change in people on supervision, digital resources play a crucial role in continuous education and training. One such resource is Empower Community Care's eLearning platform, which offers a range of Carey Group-led courses designed for justice system professionals and behavioral health specialists. These courses cover topics such as cognitive behavior therapy, motivational interviewing in child welfare and youth justice, evidence-based practices, and more.
Web-based systems offer numerous benefits beyond learning, such as the ability to develop sustainable, collaborative, measurable, customized tools for employees and clients. These types of digital tools can grant users 24/7 access to materials and resources, enhance collaboration and engagement, and enable electronic signing and storage of forms and files.
Just as training should be regularly reviewed for continuous improvement, so should web-based tools. It isn’t uncommon for organizations to continue to use a tool that isn’t really working for them because the process of updating and/or replacing the tool is cumbersome and lengthy. This is typically one of the worst reasons to continue to use a digital tool that isn’t meeting your needs.
All digital tools should be reviewed annually, and budgets for these tools should include considerations for annual cost increases. Most technology solutions increase in price by approximately three percent each year; however, many have jumped as much as ten to twenty percent. Building these costs into an annual budget reinforces an organization’s commitment to employee professional development, retention, and morale.
Specialized tools, like Carey Group’s Tools on Devices, allow justice system professionals and clients the ability to engage with each other remotely from a smartphone, tablet, or personal computer. In addition to using this tool as a way for justice-involved individuals to easily complete required tasks, justice professionals can use the tool to share feedback, encouragement, and notifications. This tool is a win-win for both parties because it enhances the justice professional’s ability to manage caseloads and enhances the support that clients receive/feel in their behavior change process. A web-based tool also meets clients where they’re at. According to the Pew Research Center, the majority of Americans use smartphones and mobile devices to connect to “the world of digital information while ‘on the go.’” Smartphones are the only connection to the digital world for many people, especially younger adults.
Feed the Hunger
Human beings are curious beings, and opportunities to learn and connect are plentiful daily. Feed your employees’ curiosity, strengthen your organization, and improve outcomes for justice professionals and individuals with justice involvement by continuing to offer a variety of evidence-based education, training, and tools.
Related Resources from Carey Group
Strengthen your organization and improve your leadership skills and ability to implement and maintain healthy, productive organizational strategies: contact a Carey Group consultant who can connect you with effective, research-based policies, practices, and leadership tools. Their consultants not only provide you tools but also develop customized training plans, coordinate training events, and offer crucial insights on implementing evidence-based practices.
Decades of experience demonstrate that aligning justice systems around evidence-based policies and practices offers the greatest promise of success. Carey Group offers services and products for justice system professionals, from evidence-based consulting to interactive workbooks that help improve the mental health and lives of people involved in the justice system.
Carey Group’s evidence-based training and consulting services address the needs of the justice system and behavioral health professionals. Training is an essential tool for keeping staff, supervisors, leadership, and stakeholders up to date with emerging knowledge and expectations for improved outcomes. Carey Group offers in-person, online, and self-directed courses on evidence-based practices, motivational interviewing, core professional competencies, case planning and management, continuous quality improvement, coaching, and the use of behavior-change tools and supervisor resources.