Every year, JCCA’s Robert Maslow Awards for Excellence in Practice recognize employees who have gone above and beyond their duties in support of JCCA’s mission. For a glimpse into the passion and dedication that power JCCA’s life-saving work, read our interview series profiling a few of the 2018 Maslow Winners.

Assistant Director of Training and Staff Development
Practice and Professional Development

JCCA: What is the purpose of JCCA’s robust staff training curriculum?

RP: We try to give our social workers a solid foundation, centering on issues of trauma and its impact on children and families. Our workers also need to understand that they have a lot of power in relation to clients, and they’re not always aware of what that means. We can also offer training for individual programs designed to address their specific staff needs.

JCCA: What have you found are the most effective ways of training staff?

RP: Ultimately, we want to help our staff provide the best clinical and ethical services to our clients. The trainings primarily focus on trauma, race, LGBTQ issues, and supervisory practice. We’ve developed interactive trainings that include a lot of role-playing and thought-provoking activities to encourage thinking outside the box. In our work, we’re always on the go and can feel as if we are all alone. But in a training, we’re all connecting, so it becomes easier to get to know and support each other. We have even started using the Challenge course on the campus, which is helping to improve communication and team cohesion.

JCCA: Is there a particularly effective training activity you can share?

RP: In our LGBTQ curriculum, we’ve developed a new activity in which we ask people to identify themselves with a word or category relating to race, sexual orientation, parenting status, health, relationship status, immigration, or gender identity. This allows staff to see where they feel most and least safe, and to understand that correlation in relation to society and their clients. It helps them realize how much weight and stress the children they’re working with carry.

JCCA: What do you find most satisfying about your work?

RP: I love connecting with my colleagues in a way that helps them have an “aha!” moment. It’s great when staff are reminded of why they chose to be social workers in the first place. They gain more confidence and learn new ways to achieve successful outcomes.