I hope this newsletter finds you well. Know that I say this with full recognition that many of us are not actually doing well in this current season. Many of us are feeling stretched thin by isolation, additional responsibilities with caregiving, limited supports, shifting professional demands, health concerns or a variety of other possible challenges. What I mean when I say I hope this newsletter finds you well is something more along the lines of … you are able to take space today to do something that nourishes you, reflect on what is hard right now and yet still feel hope for the future, connect with someone who affirms or supports you, offer connection or support to someone who needs it, feel the weight of your current burdens and remain confident you have what you need to carry them until they lighten. What I mean is that I hope that you have what you need to still be well in the midst of what is hard. One of our Academy core values is well-being and we strive to operationalize it with our staff as well as our customers and stakeholders. Whether it is through formal services such as our COVID-19 peer learning forums (focused on supporting all levels of the workforce during the pandemic) or our anti-racism summit series (which is designed to address a different but very real public health crisis) or whether it is through less formal methods like a check in call or friendly email, we hope we are a part of helping you increase your well-being and that you are helping our customers do the same as you provide services on our behalf.
The Academy will continue with virtual-only services through June 30, 2021 in alignment with San Diego State University. Given that our virtual model is going to continue for several more months we have put additional plans in place to support this work. We are planning for a small scale evaluation of virtual training in order to measure the impact of this model as compared to in-person training. We are piloting virtual line worker core simulations. We have created an overview of etiquette for participating in virtual events to provide reminders and set clear expectations for our customers and stakeholders. We regularly review feedback from our learners and trainers to guide our virtual service delivery.
Our anti-racism summit series has continued. Through this series we are providing examples of promising practices for examining systemic racism and building anti-racist practices within child welfare agencies, but beyond these examples we are building capacity in our region to create sustainable, systemwide changes. The recent summit guided representatives from Southern region counties to coordinate the efforts around race, equity and inclusion in their county and develop a formal communication plan about these efforts. Our program seeks to build capacity on important topics such as this in addition to building skills in individual learners so that we can have a deeper impact at the organizational level.
We are seeing some of our virtual services really hit their stride. When we first shifted to virtual coaching we initially saw a dip in participation. Our phenomenal coaching team conferred with our county partners, reviewed evaluation data, and strategized with our County Consultant team to develop and implement some concrete strategies to address the issue. We have since seen coaching utilization not only increase, but in most counties it has actually surpassed participation numbers that we were seeing when it was primarily in-person. We attribute some of this success ot the increased availability of the coaches since we are delivering this service virtually and their availability is much more flexible now that they are not tied to a specific office on a given day.
Thank you for your ongoing partnership with us as we serve our Southern region counties!