The Office of Training and Workforce Development (OTWD) is shifting practice to ensure the evolving needs of learners, as well as those of the families and children of New York City, are met. In Fiscal Year 2022, this shift was spurred into high gear with an intense focus on supporting coaches and supervisors in ever more innovative ways.
The implementation of this strategy is spread across all aspects of OTWD’s offerings including onboarding new staff, deep coursework on flashpoint issues, immersive simulation exercises, and instituting Safety Culture.
OTWD is also moving the needle on shifting practice by facilitating more effective engagement and leveraging strengths-based techniques in practice labs. The Supporting Knowledge into Practice (SKIP) Team strengthened its partnership with the Division of Child Protection (DCP) and the Division of Youth and Family Justice (DYFJ), as well as expanded the CARES+SKIP wraparound coaching pilot.
Finding Community In
Ebonie Holden is a DCP Child Protective Specialist Supervisor who lauds practice lab offerings for helping her learn and understand the value of Motivational Interviewing (MI) and the coach approach extolled in Safety Focused Coaching (SFC). Since participating in these labs, she’s shifted her day-to-day practice in multiple contexts, with both families and colleagues.
The SFC and MI labs centered the importance of suspending judgment and engaging in perspective-taking, which she was able to practice each week in between lab sessions. Ebonie feels that since learning about MI, she has broader perspective and more of an open mind. The skills she’s learned help her evaluate and shed her own biases to engage with colleagues more fully.
Ebonie also appreciated the sense of community that the SKIP coaches created in the labs: “When you do this work, it’s like, ‘Am I the only one going through this?’ and the practice labs made me realize that others were going through the same things, and I wasn’t alone.”
National Attention for Key Partnership
OTWD staff have presented at the National Conference on Coaching in Human Services multiple times. In FY22, to highlight the importance of enhancing partnerships in shifting practice, Alexis Howard, SKIP Program Director, and Wendy Brown, Brooklyn East Borough Commissioner for DCP, presented together – a first for the two organizations.
Discussing the need for an advanced coaching program geared for child protection supervisors at the University of California, Davis, the two shared details of their dynamic partnership with a national audience, “We were able to create a space, cultivate a growth mindset in our respective program staff and, in the process, shift the organizational culture to one that was more open and more willing to share vulnerability and engage in the learning exchange.”
In a crisis-oriented environment such as child protection, time is of the essence, and is sometimes complicated by issues of domestic violence, mental health, and/or substance abuse, not to mention the secondary trauma DCP staff experience when a tragedy occurs on their watch, a heavy burden that sadly comes with the job. The two leaders built a relationship based on a shared value system as well as realness and trust in their communications. While there was an acknowledged desire to make use of advanced coaching techniques, it took respect for each other’s organizational culture, building value from within their respective divisions, and readiness assessments at each touchpoint to come together in this meaningful way.
As a result of this partnership, DCP staffers across the entire city now have this advanced training:
attended a Safety Focused
Coaching Practice Lab
attended a Motivational
Interviewing Practice Lab
After several years of planning, the SKIP+CARES partnership was expanded in FY22. The wraparound coaching program is geared for CARES supervisors and focused on supporting DCP managers’ and supervisors’ transfer of learning of the Coaching Mindset and Approach in supervisory practices. The pilot intervention, held at the Bronx South Division of Child Protection in May, consisted of two-day, two-hour virtual sessions facilitated by two SKIP Coaches.
The assessment of the CARES+SKIP wraparound coaching pilot found that supervisors and managers were significantly more committed to applying the coach approach on the job after the second session. “This is an exciting datapoint and we are thrilled to expand our partnership with the CARES team and move into other boroughs,” says Alexis Howard, with an eye toward FY23 and beyond.
For more perspectives on how The Office of Training and Workforce Development (OTWD) is shifting practice, please watch this video shared at the end of FY22 as the team was kicking off FY23.