Santa Cruz County Partners with CADER for Staff Training

Santa Cruz, CA

Santa Cruz County Human Services in California are long-time partners of the Center for Aging & Disability Education & Research (CADER), in training their staff in key areas in aging. Throughout the years, Santa Cruz has used a blended model of training where they host in-person training sessions as a complement to their staff’s online learning via CADER’s programs. For one of the in-person sessions, they worked with Jennifer Kaley, a member of BUSSW’s Network Trainers Hub and an accomplished organizational development professional. To prepare for the sessions, Kaley completed CADER’s Substance Use Among Older Adults course, reviewed the CADER Facilitator Guide for this course, and brushed up on her training skills with The Network’s Train-the-Trainer Certificate program. The CADER online course gave participants a strong foundation of knowledge, while the in-person training Kaley created was developed to facilitate dialogue about how to apply what the staff had learned in the course to their work with diverse clients and communities.

“We needed to talk about what it would look like in the communities we serve. What services do we have available for clients that align with what we learned?” says Kaley. “Overall, it’s been very helpful, especially for staff members who are not on the front line. They took the training and gained so much more awareness about our clients and their specific situations on the ground. It gave them a deeper understanding and helped our entire agency provide better service.”

Along with the Facilitator Guide for the CADER course, Kaley took advantage of the Train-the-Trainer Certificate course as she developed the training program for the Santa Cruz staff. The certificate, a self-paced online series of three integrated modules on best practices in training, offers trainers three CE credits and can be completed in three hours. With these tools, Kaley was empowered to help participants solidify their new knowledge and connect it to the work they do every day.

However, Kaley admits, she was hesitant at first about completing the certificate. With more than 15 years’ experience in individual career development coaching, workforce and organizational development, and 10 years as a career development consultant, coach, and facilitator, did she really need it? It turns out she learned a lot more than she expected.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” Kaley says. “Refreshing what you know is always good, no matter what, but what I found most helpful were the tools and tips I gained about virtual training sessions. I have a lot of experience with in-person training, and I’m very outgoing, but the transition to virtual was not natural for me. The certificate curriculum was super helpful and made me mindful of how I’m approaching people in remote and virtual environments. For example, how are people new to the virtual setting navigating the process?”

Kaley also found the Train-the-Trainer certificate’s deep dive on better understanding yourself and your clients particularly eye-opening. “In this day and age, post-COVID, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of the importance of cultural awareness and what that means to the specific populations we serve. It’s easy to assume you know a population, but what are the micro-cultures within those groups? And what perspectives do each of us bring to work that might trigger certain feelings? It was enlightening to have those candid conversations.”

For the past five years, the blended learning model has been a successful format for Santa Cruz County Human Services. The combination of online learning with in-person training is a powerful model and now with the newly formed Trainers Hub and Train-the-Trainers certificate program, CADER and The Network deliver and support a robust learning experience. “We very much support CADER and feel very supported by them,” Kaley says. “The process has been wonderful. CADER and Network staff are truly invested in the success of their participants.”