We Help the Helpers


This is the Network's community forum, where you can:
    • post a question
    • share an idea about a best practice, policy, or article
    • start a discussion around something that's been bugging you or that you'd like to help others with
    • get real-time resources for tough situations
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  • 02/08/2010 2:51 PM | Heidi Baker (Administrator)

    Empowerment Skills for Family Workers, the credentialling program being offered this year by the Network, recommends the following best practices for home visitation safety:

    •   Schedule:  document your visitation schedule; share with colleagues or post at your agency; include contact information for your home visits; have a policy about what to do when you don't check in or return to work
    •   Cell phone:  program in 911, agency and emergency contact numbers; call your agency before and after home visits
    •   Car:  park for ready departure--this may mean backing in to a drive; lock your car; place belongings in the trunk
    •   Personal:  carry only what you need; dress appropriately and leave valuables at home; carry limited keys, credit cards and cash; use bathroom before visiting; arrive with sufficient gas; trust your intuition and leave if necessary to put your own safety first

    North Carolina recommends these procedures:  King County, WA, has a thorough list of recommendations for workers, too.  How about you?  What do you think makes for a good safety policy?

    Join us for a discussion on this topic and other policies, February 17, 11:30AM in central Denver.

  • 02/02/2010 7:52 AM | Heidi Baker (Administrator)
    In 2007, the non-profit Colorado Center on Law and Policy spearheaded an effort to get benefits to qualified applicants in a timely manner. 

    On the front page of yesterday's Denver Post, the possibility of enforcing that lawsuit with another--to rectify the fact that "Colorado ranked 52nd in the country (behind Guam) in getting food stamps out on time."  Much vitriol is spewed by the commentors, but how do you feel about the delays and the reactions of those involved in the delays?  What is at stake here? 

    If you're involved in this effort, please share what you know.  The better information we all have, the better advocates we can be for those who need a hand.

  • 01/24/2010 2:17 PM | Heidi Baker (Administrator)
    The National Organization for Human Services is offering a board certification--the HS-BCP (Board Certified Practitioner).  This is a new certification program that is being tested on those who apply before April 1, 2010.

    With a minimum of an Associate's degree and 2 years experience, an applicant can apply (test TBD) for a 5-year certification for $195.  Ongoing requirements are $35 annual recertification and 60 hours of professional development every 5 years.

    The Network is not involved with this association or certifier.  What do you think--would this credential be a valuable investment for you?  Why or why not?
  • 01/15/2010 2:19 PM | Heidi Baker (Administrator)
    Last fall the Network held a training with record-breaking attendance on mandated reporting of child abuse.  Under Colorado law C.R.S. 19-3-304, a number of 'social welfare' professions are required to report suspected child abuse or face fines or other punishment.

    At last week's specialized services discussion, a suggestion was made that everyone is a mandated reporter.  While reporting child abuse and neglect is a good idea, after some online research, it doesn't appear that everyone is truly held to the high standard, and subsequent consequences, of certain workers.  Do you know information to the contrary?

    The actual statute related to mandated reporters and other child neglect laws can be browsed via the state's webink here, and you can look up the abuse hotline number for your county via a link at CDHS here.
    Aurora Public Schools clearly states their policy with reference to the relevant laws. The Colorado  Department of Ed has a great list of resources and explanations, too. Where else can we find clear and concise information on this subject? 
  • 12/23/2009 7:46 PM | Heidi Baker (Administrator)

    The Network’s Aussie Treasurer emailed these thoughts from abroad…thanks, Lisa!

    Don’t become a crazy person this holiday season!

    I was at the mall yesterday and noticed that people seem to be a little more stressed and a crazier than usual. By the way, to the person in the orange Honda Element yesterday – I didn’t realize getting out of car spots was a life and death situation. And I am sorry if I delayed your departure by pulling out.

    We are lead to believe the holidays are meant to be joyous, fun and merry – but for many of us, the holidays are chaotic and full of stress.  Additional work, personal and family stress can leave us feeling run down and exhausted – and acting a little crazy. So here are 10 suggestions to help manage the stress this holiday season:

    10. Breathe…Breathing exercises are a quick and easy way to reduce stress. You can do them anywhere and at anytime. Check out this link for some basic exercises:  

    9. Take the time to appreciate the little things.

    8.       Keep your expectations in perspective – I will let you in on the secret not everything will look or go perfectly this holiday season.  So don’t sweat the small things… it’s ok if the napkins don’t match the placemats perfectly.

    7.       Remember you don’t need to go overboard with the gifts.  My husband and I were talking about our favorite gifts from our childhood and it should be no surprise we couldn’t actually remember any. We can however recall our most memorable Christmas (for me it was my first white Christmas). So put down the credit card and focus on making the day a memorable experience. As I tell my husband “my present to him is… my presence alone.”

    6.       Just Say No! If your schedule is full, your schedule is full… no need to over extend yourself. People will understand, after all most of our schedules are chaotic during the holidays.

    5.       If help is available there is no shame accepting it – you are only human.

    4.       Keep it short & sweet. Try to remember you can not pick your family or change their behavior; the only person you can control is you.

    3.       Eat Well. The holidays are full of delicious sweets and indulgences, but remember not to go overboard. Overindulgence will only add to your stress.

    2.       Get Some Exercise. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and combat any overindulgence.  While you may not be able to keep up your usual fitness routine, you’ll be surprised at what a brisk 10 minute walk will do.

    1.       If all else fails, throw your arms in the air and embrace the crazy holiday season!!  After all, the holidays will pass quick enough and you will be back to your old self in no time.

  • 12/04/2009 8:21 AM | Heidi Baker (Administrator)
    By now, you've probably heard of Bank on Denver or one of its national counterparts modeled after Bank on San Francisco--efforts to bring banking, credit and low-cost financial services to the underserved.

    But have you heard of Nix Check Cashing, who's been revolutionizing the check cashing industry in Los Angeles?  With a commitment to community and some innovative lending practices that don't involve taking advantage of the low-income consumer, Nix has been highlighted here and here.

    A few years ago, Nix sold a 40% share to Union Bank.  Wouldn't it be interesting to have Tom Nix or Union come to Colorado to share their stories so we can learn from them?

    What do you think--are there services like this here?  What can be done to make Bank On a success?  Has your agency thought about other advances in lending or banking?

  • 11/08/2009 11:28 AM | Heidi Baker (Administrator)

    How does our use of acronyms cloud our true meaning, either working with colleagues or participants?  I can think of countless times I've breezed right through a conversation using acronyms like CBMS or HMIS, assuming that others understand what I mean.  Realistically, I know that only the workers who use those systems know all of the intimations I'm making when I take the shortcut of an acronym instead of explaining clearly what the obstacles or benefits are of these two systems.

    CDHS' 16-page list of their common acronyms even has some new ones to me, and some definitions could be more clear.   Thinking about how we use acronyms is just one of the mindful exercises in the Cornell Family Development Credential course that's now taking place.

    Anyone have other acronym definition lists to share?  Do you have any examples of how you explain acronyms in ‘plain language’ with participants?

  • 10/12/2009 7:54 AM | Anonymous


    I am required to obtain Professional Liability insurance for a new position that I will be starting at the end of October. I'm having a difficult time getting this type of insurance. Several of the large companies have recommended that I obtain this through the associations I am a member of...

    Does anyone have contact information for Commercial Insurance agents? I'll be a contracted worker for Jefferson County providing career counseling and advocation.

    Any tips or advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you, Regina


  • 09/21/2009 3:20 PM | Heidi Baker (Administrator)
    Would you be interested in expanding on your learning by participating in a small group that brings real-life examples and challenges to the table?

    Peer Coaching is a term used for groups who share a common interest, and use a give-and-take discussion format to strengthen their skills and solve problems.  Meetings can be in-person or virtual.  Each member of the group gets equal time to address a current priority or goal, to which other members pose questions or offer useful advice.  These could be in a geographic service area, by a specific type of service, or following a training topic where 'practice could make perfect.'

    The Network has the ability to foster these groups, and could host such forums on our website.  What do you think?

    Would you be interested in participating or leading a group?
    What topic would most interest you?

  • 08/12/2009 4:10 PM | Heidi Baker (Administrator)
    The Cornell Family Development Credential is something the Network has been interested in offering.  This program is offered in dozens of states, and the information below was gleaned from a collaborative of non-profit and county agencies in a California county.

    Positive outcomes experienced by San Mateo County, CA, workers who attended the credentialing course:
    • increase education and skills, which enabled career advancement
    • increase proeductivity by applying FDC principles of strengths-based services
    • decreased burnout via personal empowerment and positive relationships (supervisor-worker-client-colleague)
    Critical elements to offering a succesful FDC program were:
    • Supervisor support
    • Offered as component of ongoing professional development
    • Addressing time management upfront, such as ways to address possible lack of peer and agency support, adjusting schedules and workloads
    • Fostering an ongoing relationship of the students
    • Offering support for students in the form of time off, decreasing caseloads, regular check-ins
    • Agencies open to learning from participants, e.g. sharing at staff meetings, being open to variations in client relationships, making adjustments to systems  forms, etc. in order to adopt some elements of the new approach
    • Buy-in from top level management
    • Multiple agencies and a diversity of participants
    From the article "Establishing the FDC in a Human Service Agency" in Preparing Human Service Workers to Implement Welfare Reform.

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