Program-Level Training

See Training Resources for resources directed at individuals and which may upon request provide whole-program training.

With high turnover positions, investing in staff training can feel like a risk. How do you keep staff skills up to date and maintain organizational culture when people leave? The right training investment can help keep your organization functioning smoothly through turnover – and even help retain staff.

Staff provide more consistent care and can offer more supportive supervision if all are trained in the same practices. Traditional trainings remove individuals from work for a half-day or more, usually for lecture-style training. Often such trainings do not result in the individual or the organization adopting new practices, because there is little workplace reinforcement of the skills. Even with train-the-trainer strategies, adoption and fidelity to a new practice are not assured. Consider these approaches instead:

  • Train your staff in pairs or as a whole in topics such as trauma-informed care, cultural responsiveness, person-centered care, motivational interviewing, or other cross-cutting topics.
  • Send a supervisor with a person they supervise.
  • Train all staff, including support staff, in Motivational Interviewing. Look for Motivational Interviewing on the AdCare Training Calendar.

The Motivational Interviewing Skillbuilding in Massachusetts (MISMA) project was implemented by training teams of people, including supervisors, together. This format continues - for example, a five-day training in 2012 was designed for teams of up to 4 people (one of whom must be in a supervisory role with the others) who want to learn how to implement and sustain MI. The training involved interactive exercises and practice sessions, extended discussions, as well as didactic presentation and video interview clips. Supervisors who had already taken certain MI training attended most, but not all, of the training with their staff.

Van drivers, secretaries, custodial staff and food service workers all interact with clients. People in these positions who have had MI training have positively influenced clients.

Similar to training for individual adults, training for groups should be focused on the adult learner. Trainings that allow individuals to participate in discussions, share real-life impacts of the material, and actually practice skills are the most effective. Trainings should:

  • Be experiential
  • Be interactive
  • Provide chances to focus on role-playing and real-life implementation.
The Massachusetts Adult Residential Motivational Interviewing (MARMI) project was directed at residential providers. In addition to training individuals, the programs were provided in-house follow-up coaching for the majority of staff (from Executive Directors to Receptionists). The coaching was interactive, and included role plays, multimedia demonstrations, and opportunities for staff to practice in their jobs between coaching sessions. Trauma-informed care training is also being delivered to teams from a single agency.
  • In-person, multi-staff trainings can be very effective at the program itself or offsite.

  • Online trainings taken by all staff individually can be supplemented with group discussions to add the interactive element, and with materials for supervisors about the training.
The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare provides training workbooks for both the person taking an online training, and a separate book for supervisors to use in familiarizing themselves with the material and reviewing it with supervisees. For an example, see Understanding Substance Use Disorders, Treatment and Family Recovery: a Guide for Child Welfare Professionals.