A lot has happened in the last little while as we quickly approach the holiday season and the end of 2016. One of those major occurrences was the completion of another successful national conference with a record number of just under 1,000 attendees and over 60 concurrent sessions and some great keynotes. In addition it was announced that the 2017 conference site will be Winnipeg, MB at the end of October. There is already a link to the conference on the CAEH Website. Some of you may not know that National Geographic just named Winnipeg as one of the Best Trips on Earth. So start making preparations now for what should prove to me another fantastic trip and learning opportunity.
One of the sessions I had the privilege of presenting this year was on the CAEH Training and Technical Assistance Program (TTA). It was a well attended session indicating the high level of interest in additional training, particularly around Housing First, from across the country. Prior to the conference and especially now that it is over, I have had a tremendous amount of communication with communities looking for various kinds of training and technical assistance. Beginning in January of 2017 our trainers will be busy helping people across Canada in their efforts to end homelessness. So for this blog post, which will now be a minimum of a monthly occurrence, I figured I would provide another update on where we are and what you can expect from the CAEH TTA going forward.
Training Faculty Recruited
After much deliberation, I now have a faculty of Core Housing First trainers. We have approximately 20 individuals from across the country with expert skill sets in a variety of Housing First related best practices. All of them have on the ground direct service experience which will be beneficial as we work to help communities customize their Housing First efforts to their specific community needs and demographics. You can see a list of these trainers on our website. Please be patient as we continue to update their information. The primary role for these trainers is assist in delivering the Core Housing First training made available to all 44 HPS Community Entities with designated Housing First targets. A basic description of what is included in that package can also be seen our website here.
Training Needs Assessment
Part of our commitment in delivering this program was to also conduct a training needs assessment and survey. This was to get a sense of where the country is in terms of training needs, desires, gaps, successes, and difficulties. We partnered with the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (COH) to assist with this process and they have almost completed the initial phase. I would like to share some of the preliminary findings that I found interesting.
1. Fidelity Assessment: Of the communities that participated in the training needs assessment process, almost all of them either have already participated in a fidelity assessment or they planned on completing that assessment. The fidelity assessment or “Fidelity Review” which is what we call it is a core element in the training we complete as part of our HPS contract and it can also be made available to any community on a fee-for-service basis. This process, though very intense, offers a non-punitive method of determining how well your community is on track with staying true to Housing First. It will also help to determine if there are areas that could benefit from some tweaking or improvement which may improve overall outcomes of your program.
2. Acceptance of the Housing First model: Some communities who did not feel adequately prepared to implement Housing First programs, identified as one of the reasons why, a concern that the model was not yet widely accepted in their community and that more work needed to be completed before that would be the case. This speaks to the need for basic Housing First training to assist communities to really understand what it means to implement the model.
3. Lack of clear Housing First definition: In questions related to barriers to implementing Housing First in their community, many of the respondents indicated that there was confusion regarding what Housing First really is. This was somewhat surprising considering all of the Housing First knowledge and experience in our country now. But interestingly enough, all of that knowledge actually may be why there is confusion. Some of the respondents indicated that there is competing messages regarding what is meant by Housing First. In particular this was as related to whether Housing first was a program intervention or a systems approach or philosophy. It appears there is some work to be done to make some slight tweaks in effort to unify all the “Experts” and eliminate some of this confusion. The CAEH TTA is set up and meant to help communities understand the nuances of those areas and will be working to clarify some of the confusion and create a consistent sense of understanding and implementation.
4. Training needs: Lastly, the respondents indicated that ongoing training was important but in addition, they felt that the ability to have ongoing communication with the facilitators is very beneficial. The TTA program has built into it the ability to have regular correspondence as well as regional community of practice calls for communities to take advantage of. Respondents also stated that it would be helpful to offer training in various modalities such as online, face-to-face, conference calls etc. and that having a menu of many topics to choose from would be beneficial. Both of those areas are being addressed by the TTA program. We will be offering various modalities to our training and when it comes to more customized training, we already have a large library of topics that can be made available to anyone interested.
Professional Development and Partnerships
The last section regarding the need for options in training methods brings me to one of my last areas to cover today. It has been exciting to explore and solidify various partnerships in providing quality training to Canadian Housing First professionals. We have a large variety of professional development or fee-for-service topics to choose from and fantastic trainers that can deliver amazing content through training. But I have also begun the process of creating some tremendous partnerships with other established consultants. These partnerships will only expand the array of things we can do for communities and it will assist in uniting the Housing First endeavors on a national level.
We will highlight various partnerships as we go but for now I want to talk briefly about a key partnership we have solidified. t3 (think, teach, transform) out of the U.S. has been delivering training on best practices in ending homelessness for a long time. They specialize in areas such as Motivational Interviewing, Critical Time Intervention, and many more. They also have mastered the art of using multiple venues and modalities in delivering training. In effort to enhance our learning in Canada by expanding our base for which we obtain knowledge and information, we have partnered with t3 in a way that will be beneficial for both the U.S. and Canada. We will be sharing content, creating learning series together on various topics and building a bridge between our two countries regarding best practices. Any community involved with CAEH TTA program will have access to t3 online modules and trainings at a reduced rate as well as other benefits. Feel free to listen to the podcast below created with Jeff Olivet the CEO from the Center 4 Social Innovation which is the umbrella organization for t3.
For more information about how to take advantage of the t3 partnership contact me at 403-894-5565 or by email at email@example.com.
Training Going Forward
The question you may be asking at this point is how do I access training and learn about what types of training are offered or available. First off you can visit our website at http://training.caeh.ca. But I would love for you to contact me by phone at 403-894-5565 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can take a look at what your needs are and start determining how we can tailor training just for you. If you are a designated CE then you will have some training available to you at no cost. But if you are not or even if you are and you would like additional training, as mentioned we have a large menu of training topics which is growing all the time. I have not doubt that we have something to offer you and we work to keep our training at a high level and our costs at a reasonable one.
We can’t ever learn too much. And trust me, when we come to provide training for you it is not just a one way street. We take away many learnings and then we work to implement those into future training that we provide for others. This is just another way we can work together to support Canada in coming together as one united body in the efforts to end homelessness. Whether you are a seasoned veteran in the world of ending homelessness or you are just getting started, give me a call or drop me a note and lets get started on the type and modality of training that is going to be the best fit for you. Calls are coming in quite often now so don’t waste too much time so you can get your training time scheduled as soon as possible. I look forward to our conversation and ‘keep on keepin’ on.’