Rural Employment Opportunities (REO), a statewide non-profit in Helena Montana, participated in the AFOP Peer Best Practices Sharing Program in April. Individuals from the NFJP programs in Texas and Arkansas flew into Helena along with AFOP Workforce Development Director Katy Nelson from AFOP headquarters in Washington, DC.
In the last two years, REO has had an almost complete turn over in staff including the executive director, program manager, CFO and most of the employment and training case managers so there was a huge gap in historical knowledge and operational practices. It was extremely valuable to sit down with knowledgeable colleagues and be able to ask questions about how their programs operate. We were able to discuss the new WIOA funding and regulations as well as ask about database issues, recruitment and where to find needed resources. In addition, we were able to validate some of our own processes and procedures. We brought all of our staff in from across the state and they were able to get the “whys” behind some of the regulations and learn how the NFJP program has changed over the years.
One of the most valuable things about the program beyond the depth of knowledge these folks had, was the ability to really get to know them and feel like there was a place to go to get answers. The genuine concern and willingness to help that was brought to the table makes this an extremely valuable program to all grantees.
Reported by Jami Anderson Lind, Executive Director at REO Montana
Peer Best Practice Sharing and Review participants also gathered in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma for a demonstration of ORO Development Corporation’s electronic case management system and its integration with a paperless office system. Participants spent two days talking to systems experts and ORO program staff to learn about their experience transitioning to a paperless systems, and the ways the systems have been beneficial to their operation and client services.
“I was happy to see how the electronic system workout for another organization and see their results. It was important to see how the filing system has the capability to have it work for your organizations style.”
One participant reported, “I was happy to see how the electronic system workout for another organization and see their results. It was important to see how the filing system has the capability to have it work for your organizations style.” Another said, “A major takeaway is that change can always be challenging. I think training is a challenge, getting everyone used to a new process. I think it will be a big job because of the variety of programs we work with, but I think, long term, it will save time, money and obtain good results.” Another participant stated about the setting, “I have sat in classes at different conferences about CERTSS; it was nice to see how it actually works by having an actual case manager work with it. I learned about current barriers that ORO case managers face when they are out in the fields that could also be a potential barriers for our staff in regards to internet connectivity.”
If you are interested in participating in peer best practices sharing and review, please contact AFOP Workforce Development Director Katy Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.