By Joseph Criscuolo, TAA State Coordinator, Connecticut Department of Labor
One of my duties as the State TAA Coordinator for Connecticut, is to conduct quarterly program monitoring as required by the 2015 Trade Act amendments. During one of those reviews at an American Job Center, I discovered in a conversation with one of our TAA caseworker supervisor that our caseworkers have never received any type of case management training.
One of the goals of monitoring is to identify areas in need of training. Considering that the Trade program is heavily focused on case management, I determined that this would be an important type of training to bring to our staff.
Before taking any action, however, I checked with my regional program manager to discuss the ability to use program funds to cover the cost of training. It was decided that using case management funds would be appropriate and reasonable and agreed that once I had a proposal ready, I would send it to Boston for review and approval.
After looking around a bit, I discovered there are not a lot of case management trainings available out there. Turns out that another program in our agency had contracted with a vendor a few years back for this type of training. I attended a training they conducted in the area (a different type of training), to get a first look at how they operated and get a sense to see if they might be a right fit for us.
After attending the training and speaking with them directly, I determined that they would be a good choice to deliver training. Further discussions were had and a proposal was provided that fit our parameters. One of those parameters was the ability to deliver the training online and self-paced. Like many other state work force providers, staff are pulled in many different directions and have many demands on their time. Although in-person interaction is probably always the best option, it is not always practical. With the ability to participate online with pre-recoded sessions within a reasonable timeframe, it seemed like a good way to go.
Of course there are pros and cons to everything. We knew going in that this training was not tailor made for Trade. It was more focused on the general principles of case management, with some references to WIOA. Some of our newer case managers found it very informative, while for some of the more experienced staff it was more of a review of skills they have acquired over time. From all the feedback received, everyone seemed to take something positive from it and all agreed it was worthwhile to participate in it.
The training kicked off August 1st and was scheduled to conclude at the end of November. Extra time is being allowed for staff who were not able to begin in August.
The flexibility of being able to use program funds for staff training and other activities that will ultimately benefit our participants is of tremendous value to those responsible for administering the program.
If you’re interested in checking them out, the vendor website is www.WORKFORCE180.com.