6.0 Major Accomplishments
6.2 Program Accomplishments
- 6.2.1 Early Childhood Education and Training
- 6.2.2 Department of Child Care Regulatory Training
- 6.2.3 Department of Child Care Subsidy and Legally Exempt Training
- 6.2.4 Training and Technical Assistance to Support Local DSS Permanency Planning
- 6.2.5 Public Service Workshops Program
- 6.2.6 Department of Computer Training Services
- 6.2.7 Department of Temporary Assistance Training
- 6.2.8 Child Support Training and Outreach Project
- 6.2.9 Instructional Technologies Unit
- 6.2.10 Evaluation Unit
- 6.2.11 Department of Child Welfare Training
- 6.2.12 Department of Media Production
- 6.2.13 Health Workforce Retraining Initiative
- 6.2.14 Homeless Services Training Resource System
- 6.2.15 Information Systems and Programming (ISP)
6.2.1 Early Childhood Education and Training
Educational Incentive Program
The Educational Incentive Program (EIP) provides scholarships to assist child care providers in paying for professional development activities with the intent to build provider knowledge, skills and competencies to improve the quality of child care in NYS. Eligible child care providers may receive assistance for credentialing activities, college credit-bearing coursework, and non-credit bearing training. During this reporting period 7,396 scholarships totaling $4,385,164 were issued to NYS child care providers. 83% of the funds issued were allocated for college credit-bearing and credential activities.
In collaboration with the Council on Children and Families, PDP received additional funding through the New York State Birth through Five Project (NYSB5) to support EIP. The use of these funds allowed EIP to issue an additional $386,475 in scholarship awards in the 2020 scholarship year. In April 2021, PDP began working with the NY Early Childhood Professional Development Institute at the City University of New York to use a portion of these funds to support the SUNY/CUNY Early Childhood Education Workforce Program. In addition to receiving EIP funding, eligible applicants who participate in a career advisement program with the Early Childhood Career Development Center can receive an additional $2,000 annually to support their Early Childhood Education degree course work at SUNY or CUNY schools. Scholarship awards totaling $53,576 were issued during this reporting period. The additional funding through NYSB5 will continue through 2023.
EIP’s Event Approval process ensures that participants in the EIP scholarship program receive training that supports the goals and regulations of the NYS Office of Children of Family Services (OCFS). The process requires all non-credit bearing training be reviewed and approved by PDP staff prior to becoming eligible for EIP scholarship funding. A total of 705 trainings were reviewed and approved and 2,237 individual trainings were scheduled and eligible for scholarship funding. The Event Approval Team supported Training Organizations as they edited existing training portfolios or developed new training portfolios to include the newly added OCFS regulatory topic area on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
Due to the inability to deliver in-person training during the pandemic, OCFS temporarily allowed training to be delivered using a virtual platform. The PDP Event Approval Team served as the statewide main point of contact to review, approve, and track trainer requests to conduct training virtually. During this reporting period, approximately 1,500 events were conducted virtually.
PDP Event Approval staff also serve on the NYS Distance Learning Committee to review and approve asynchronous distance learning training. Twenty-four new courses were approved, 1 course was renewed, and 5 new organizations were added to the list of Approved Training Organizations.
Recipients of EIP scholarships must submit proof of successful completion of their courses. EIP verified the successful completion of 3,390 courses representing $2,672,620. Additionally, training organizations participating with EIP must adhere to program policies including allowing PDP staff to conduct announced and unannounced monitoring visits of any trainings for which a scholarship was issued. A total of 42 unannounced monitoring visits were conducted during this annual report period. Training organizations must also allow EIP to conduct program reviews of relevant financial and program records of any training in which EIP funds were received. Twenty program reviews were completed during this reporting period.
“Thank you for responding to my application for EIP. You and the rest of your co-workers are extremely helpful. I am truly thankful for all of you for taking time out to always respond to my queries.”
— From an EIP applicant
ECETP staff continued to process Medication Administration Training (MAT) rebates for eligible child care providers. Eight hundred ninety-three (893) MAT rebates totaling $77,810 were issued this year.
The Administrative Support Unit (ASU) provides direct support to PDP’s own staff while also providing assistance to child care providers, trainers and the general public. The ASU provides assistance to thousands of individuals who call or email seeking information and technical support with various issues including; how to become a trainer; difficulty completing e-learning courses; status updates on EIP awards; assistance creating an account or resetting a password; questions about EIP eligibility and countless other issues.
PDP’s Medication Administration Training (MAT) Program certifies trainers to deliver OCFS-approved Medication Administration Training (MAT) course to licensed/registered child day care providers. Providers must complete and maintain their MAT certification in order to administer medication in NYS-regulated child day care programs. During this reporting period, 54 MAT trainers delivered training to certify 2,092 providers to administer medications and renewed the certifications for 1,586 providers.
PDP helps ensure ongoing quality assurance by periodically monitoring and recertifying MAT trainers. Due to the COVID pandemic, PDP was not able to deliver any MAT Training of the Trainer courses this year. In lieu of this, a proposal was submitted by PDP and approved by OCFS to provide an interactive, synchronous online MAT recertification process to bring current all extended 2020 and anticipated 2021 trainer certifications. As a result, 38 MAT trainers were recertified. PDP also provided an interactive, synchronous online MAT refresher course to verify trainers remain fully versed in all curriculum and updates to support their ability to resume in-person training. Twenty-nine MAT trainers attended the refresher course. In addition to the online recertifications and refresher, PDP was able to monitor seven trainers in person.
Health and Safety Training
PDP’s Health & Safety Program certifies trainers to deliver OCFS-approved Health & Safety Training: Competencies for Becoming a Family or Group Family Day Care Provider to prospective and licensed/registered child day care providers. A significant proportion of these trainers also deliver the OCFS-approved Health & Safety Training: Competencies in Child Care for Day Care Center and School-Age Child Care Program Staff and/or the OCFS-approved Health & Safety Training: Competencies in Child Care for Day Care Center, School-Age Child Care, and Enrolled Legally Exempt Group Program Directors.
During this reporting period PDP’s 133 certified Health & Safety trainers delivered 575 trainings to 2,877 providers.
PDP helps ensure ongoing quality assurance by periodically monitoring and recertifying Health & Safety trainers. Due to the COVID pandemic, PDP was not able to deliver any Health and Safety Training of the Trainer courses this year. In lieu of this, a proposal was submitted by PDP and approved by OCFS to provide an interactive, synchronous online Health and Safety recertification process to bring current all extended 2020 and anticipated 2021 trainer certifications. As a result, 77 Health and Safety trainers were recertified. PDP also provided an interactive, synchronous online refresher course to verify that trainers maintain effective delivery skills and remain fully versed in all curriculum updates to support their ability to resume in-person deliveries. Sixty-one Health and Safety trainers attended the refresher course. In addition to the online recertifications and refresher, PDP was able to monitor 16 trainers in person.
6.2.2 Department of Child Care Regulatory Training
“Thank you for bringing your positive energy to us today. I hope to use the Mindfulness activities for myself and to teach others to give them some hands-on ways to create mindfulness in their life.”
— From a training participant
The Regulatory Training team collaborated with the NYS Office of Children and Family Services to develop and deliver new training to support the work of regulatory staff. New training included Collaborative Investigations for Child Abuse and Maltreatment (a two-part Webex conversion of the full-day classroom course), Introduction to Developmentally Appropriate Practice (which provides regulators with knowledge of child development to help determine regulatory compliance), and Special Circumstances Reporting. During this timeframe, trainers honed their skills for delivering training virtually to support adult learning needs.
PDP seized opportunities to review all existing training simulations and work on creating a simulation “library” for the New Regulator Institute to enhance the training experience for participants. The enhanced simulations provide opportunities to demonstrate competency in illegal complaint inspections and communicating regulatory findings.
The PDP Regulatory Training team also continued development of the Regulatory Supervisor Training by incorporating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and a series of virtual trainings to enhance supervisory skills before, during, and after the training. The virtual offerings provide a mechanism to introduce content and continue practicing concepts taught in the classroom.
In July of 2020, this team collaborated with PDP Media Production to create a virtual training for regulators, Guidance and Best Practice for Child Care Programs Operating During the COVID-19 Emergency. This live virtual event provided an opportunity for child care regulators to participate in the training before child care providers did so, which enabled regulators to be ready to answer questions and provide needed support to providers during the challenging and rapidly changing pandemic.
The three-day Regulatory Staff Virtual Forum, held statewide in June of 2021, included valuable presentations from a diverse panel of experts. This team collaborated with local and national presenters to develop content for dealing with stress after a crisis, building resilience, and listen to critical conversations about race and equity. The Virtual Forum allowed regulatory staff to come together as a group and actively engage with presenters. The Forum began with a keynote address from Stephen Birchak, a.k.a. “Dr. Bird,” who provided ideas for dealing with stress and seeing the world from a positive perspective. Dr. Nefertiti Poyner followed the keynote with practical strategies for resilience, mindfulness, and calming techniques. On day two, the featured presentations focused on race equity with a presentation from Maith Flemming and Lisa Erb. A panel of OCFS staff discussed the diversity, equity, and inclusion work that the Division of Child Care Services is doing. On the last day, regulatory staff learned about NYS Initiatives. Panelists included Dr. Walter S. Gilliam and Dr. Chin Reyes from the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy; Meredith Chimento from the Early Care and Learning Council; and Patricia Persell, the New York State Head Start Collaboration Director and NYS Pyramid model Co-Chair. The panel focused on promoting children’s social, emotional, and mental health. The Forum’s final presentation explored physical movement activities in regulated care. Diane Craft, PhD, Professor Emerita, Physical Education Department at SUNY Cortland, shared ideas and resources that regulatory staff can use in their technical assistance.
6.2.3 Department of Child Care Subsidy and Legally Exempt Training
The Child Care Subsidy/Legally Exempt Training team rallied together to develop several trainings to support the work of enrollment agency and local district staff as a result of new regulatory changes, as well as identified needs from the field and OCFS.
During this period, the team developed eleven new virtual trainings to support local social services district Child Care Subsidy and Enrollment Agency staff who work with legally exempt providers. Topics included Eligibility and the Application Process, Market Rates and Determining Payments, and Payments for Temporary Absences and Program Closures.
“[The course was] very straight forward, easy to follow, great way to refresh our knowledge on child care rates; good graphics.”
— From an EIP applicant
One notable training, Child Care Subsidy and Legally Exempt: Interagency Collaboration, teaches participants how the enrollment of legally exempt child care providers requires timely action from the local social services district and the enrollment agency. Participants walk through the process and identify when and how to communicate information between the agencies.
A training created for fraud investigators identifies factors to monitor for and how to investigate situations involving child care subsidy recipients and provider fraud. The training provides an overview of the Child Care Subsidy Program, identifies the various provider types, describes the Front End Detection System (FEDS), identifies sampling methodologies, and explains the processes for reviewing providers and cases. This training complements local district staff training and orientation for local district child care, temporary assistance, employment, fraud investigators, and other appropriate staff.
Other trainings focused on Medication Administration, Enhanced Market Rate, Complaint Inspections, and Types of Legally Exempt Child Care. This team created a Comprehensive Background Checks training to teach enrollment agency staff the full range of skills and information needed to support legally exempt providers in the comprehensive background check process.
The first e-learning, What Is Legally Exempt Child Care? involved partnering with new work groups in PDP, OCFS, and Child Care Resource & Referral staff in the field. The training, which is targeted to enrolled legally exempt child care providers and people interested in becoming enrolled legally exempt, defines the different types of child care and provides an overview of the NYS regulations.
6.2.4 Training and Technical Assistance to Support Local DSS Permanency Planning
The Training and Technical Assistance to Support Local DSS Permanency Planning is a unique program positioned in OCFS offices to support program improvement. Each region in NYS has a specialist who focuses on assessing the training and development needs of local districts and child welfare agencies and implementing strategies aligned with the NYS Child Welfare Practice Model. These specialists have worked closely with OCFS to help improve the skills of New York Child welfare workers in practices related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
In this reporting period, the staff of the project exceeded program deliverables by utilizing their partnership with OCFS and virtual technology. Due to the global pandemic, project staff embraced various virtual platforms to connect with the participants in greater numbers than in any other year. Specific work included a major course titled Supporting and Promoting Race Equity and Cultural Competence, which has been taught to over a thousand caseworkers and administrators. Prior to this course being offered, project staff completed cultural competency assessments on every district and discussed next steps to improve cultural humility in child welfare practice. Project staff have encouraged sound fatherhood engagement strategies and have assisted workers in family engagement strategies focused on improving safety and risk assessments. Project staff continue to support developing a dual track of child protective intervention by supporting counties using the Family Assessment Response.
The project has been working side by side with OCFS to invigorate and transform NYS child welfare practice. Field staff are available to assist each region in meeting their training needs, acting as advocates and brokers of training and technical assistance. The staff use statewide data and county-written plans to provide specific assistance needed to improve practice. Project staff have taken the lead to assess Signs of Safety as a new approach to practice and have assessed and examined a new comprehensive family and child assessment. Project staff facilitated learning exchanges, and town halls, and implementation efforts to promote best practice and to engage the field in growth.
6.2.5 Public Service Workshops Program
During the period July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021, staff of the Public Service Workshops Program made significant efforts to complete the conversion of classroom content for virtual delivery and to deliver 114 virtual offerings. This includes the conversion of five GOER Learning and Development (L&D) in-person courses to seven virtual delivery courses that were all piloted prior to being added to the GOER Learning and Development catalog. Additionally, a new virtual delivery supervisory course, Successful Supervision in a Remote Environment, was developed, piloted, and added to the GOER catalog. Short video vignettes were created to enhance the content in several of these courses.
“Thank you to everyone on the team for a fantastic first virtual pilot. The materials were excellent; both presentation and content were relevant and professional. The presentation was engaging; it never once felt like the instructor was reading from a script or was dipping in energy. The facilitation was natural; the activities were engaging, easy to follow, and supported the learning. The technical support helped all participants engage fully in this activity. It is terrific work that will be of great value to New York State.”
— From a sponsor
In spring 2021, the first ever GOER Virtual Learning and Development Series was launched. Additionally, a Trainer Certification class was offered to a select group of NYS trainers in early 2021 to increase the number of trainers available to deliver the course.
Also due to the COVID-19 pandemic response and social distancing restrictions implemented across New York State, PSWP staff transitioned the twelve-day classroom-based New York State Leadership Institute (NYSLI), delivered over eight months, to a six-month delivery via the Zoom platform and broadcast live utilizing the PDP on-campus studio as the hub. This required significant research, planning, and coordination with GOER, PSWP staff, PDP’s Media Production Team, Rockefeller College staff and faculty, and presenters, which included multiple technical rehearsals both in-studio and connecting remotely, as well as the provision of guidance on the best use of Zoom features to help presenters prepare for their sessions. PDP’s Media Production Team provided additional support by assisting with production scripts, modifying PowerPoints, and graphic development. Additionally, PSWP staff created and provided a 90-minute Zoom tutorial to NYSI participants to familiarize them with Zoom features. Staff also provided ongoing technical assistance to co-facilitators, presenters, and participants during sessions to ensure that each session ran smoothly.
6.2.6 Department of Computer Training Services
PDP’s Department of Computer Training Services (DCTS) provided training, curriculum development, needs assessment, and trainee support to over 11,150 trainees through more than 1,000 offerings from July 2020 through June 2021 across a variety of NYS Office of Children and Family Services and NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance computer systems and programs including the following:
- Adult Services Automation Project (ASAP.NET) system
- Automated Restraint Tracking System (ARTS)
- Benefit Issuance Control System (BICS)
- Child Care Facility System (CCFS/CCFS2)
- Child Care Time and Attendance (CCTA) system
- Cognos Analytics
- Detention Risk Assessment Instrument System (DRAIS)
- Document Review Management System (DRMS)
- Facility Application and Management System (FAMS)
- Family Type Homes for Adults (FTHA)
- Juvenile Detention Automated System (JDAS)
- Juvenile Justice Information System for Child Welfare (JJIS-CW)
- NYS Procurement Card (P-Card)
- Shelter Management System (SMS)
- Statewide Financial System (SFS)
- Welfare Management System (WMS)
- Welfare-To-Work Caseload Management System (WTWCMS)
DCTS staff also developed and delivered customized training on commercial applications such as the Microsoft Office suite, which included tailoring training scenarios, examples, and learning objectives to meet the needs of trainees working in the area of social services. In response to the ongoing pandemic, DCTS continued to prioritize development and delivery of online distance learning classes—both synchronous and asynchronous. This work included migrating existing classroom-based training to distance learning classes while developing simulations and other hands-on activities that provide an interactive environment for trainees.
Classes were delivered through virtual classroom training, webinars, and self-paced web-based training. One-on-one and small group training support, as well as the development and maintenance of help systems for two OCFS applications, were also provided throughout the year.
DCTS continued its support of OTDA initiatives related to making agency documents accessible for persons with visual or other impairments. This included providing formal training to agency staff and serving as a source of “in-house” expertise for OTDA staff.
PDP DCTS staff also provides extensive training on CONNECTIONS, the NYS system of record for child welfare casework documentation, which encompasses areas such as child protective services and foster care. Other training deliverables related to OCFS and OTDA initiatives focus on the support of child care services, adult services, juvenile justice programs, shelters, financial assistance, and more. DCTS delivers training statewide to NYS staff, local districts of social services, child care providers, voluntary agencies, and other staff who use and support the aforementioned systems.
DCTS continued to provide training to support system training needs of the OCFS Division of Child Care Services (DCCS), which is responsible for the licensing, registering, and inspecting of all child day care facilities regulated by the state.
The Child Care Facility System (CCFS) maintains records related to licensed/registered child care facilities and legally-exempt providers. As such, regulatory changes may impact this system. DCTS responded to these changes by updating existing courses and developing instructor-led and self-paced distance learning courses. Additional training related efforts include developing and publishing CCFS help topics and system release notes. These activities provided ongoing support to staff using CCFS or needing to understand the latest system changes. DCTS staff also worked closely with other PDP staff providing child care policy training, leading to coordinated scheduling and delivery of child care policy and system training for new staff.
In addition to supporting thousands of local district and provider agency staff in their varied roles using CONNECTIONS, the project continued to provide the system component of the new-hire training program for the OCFS Statewide Central Register (SCR). Each four-day session provides new workers with pertinent SCR policies supplemented with demonstrations and practice in multiple CONNECTIONS environments. The critical topics of person search and case merging are discussed in detail then demonstrated in an environment that provides numerous simulated, yet realistic, examples in preparation for use in the production system.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, staff rapidly moved CONNECTIONS classroom training content of two courses to an online, instructor-led format and began planning for the conversion of a two-day classroom course to multiple, topic-specific online courses. In addition, staff completed development of seven Webex courses to support child welfare workers across the state whose only means of learning was online.
DCTS field staff working with OCFS program areas played critical roles this year, especially in supporting the Welfare Management System and related financial systems, as well as efforts to support the efficient processing of claims related to COVID-related grants to child care providers.
6.2.7 Department of Temporary Assistance Training
This year, the Department of Temporary Assistance Training (DTAT) did an exceptional job responding to the extraordinary circumstances and resulting training needs amid the on-going COVID-19 pandemic and State Disaster Emergency. Under four contracts totaling over $5.1 million, 39 different synchronous online courses (27 of which were newly developed this year) were delivered to state, county, and service provider audiences throughout NYS in support of Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) training initiatives.
“We really appreciate the great job you are doing. It does not go unnoticed. I am very appreciative. The staff have done some fabulous work during this pandemic.”
— From a NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Training and Staff Development Contract Manager to the Department of Temporary Assistance Training
In typical years, 85-90% of this department’s training portfolio includes delivering a range of in-person training, including multi-day training institutes, conferences, and statewide, regional, and site-specific training events of varied lengths. Since all in-person training was suspended for health and safety concerns due to the pandemic, the department staff concentrated their efforts on developing and delivering synchronous online training in virtual classroom and webinar formats via Webex.
DTAT rapidly and significantly expanded its online course catalog from 12 to 39 courses, a 225% increase from the pre-pandemic level, and responded to the emerging training needs of the following target populations: Temporary Assistance (TA), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) eligibility staff and supervisors, employment services (ES) staff and supervisors, temporary housing staff, financial services staff, welfare fraud investigators, fair hearing agency representatives, and hearing officers/administrative law judges, among other state and county workers supporting OTDA initiatives.
Despite difficult circumstances and most department staff working remotely, the department increased their training reach and 9,524 trainees participated, a 9.7% increase from the pre-pandemic level, in 417 days of synchronous online training. A total of 605 online training offerings were provided, a 60.1% increase from the pre-pandemic level.
During the public health emergency and extended period of heightened unemployment and increased public needs for immediate government assistance, the chief priority was providing several online series of core, performance-based training programs to TA, SNAP, ES, and HEAP county workers. The online training services provided enabled county staff to participate in training either remotely or in county offices, and to learn how to process applications for emergency and on-going assistance, determine eligibility, authorize public assistance benefits and payments, and monitor and maintain cases. This included providing support to OTDA for the implementation of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).
These online course series provided county staff with the opportunities to learn core job tasks despite being unable to attend the usual in-person training institutes designed for this purpose. Notably:
- The TA series included nine synchronous online courses, of which five were newly developed. One hundred fifty-two total offerings comprising 92.5 days of training were delivered.
- The SNAP series included nine synchronous online courses, of which seven were newly developed. One hundred fifty-seven total offerings comprising 112.5 days of training were delivered.
- The ES series included 12 synchronous online courses, of which seven were newly developed. Ninety-six total offerings comprising 63 days of training were delivered.
Additionally, the in-person Domestic Violence Liaison Training Institute (DVLTI) was fully converted to a five-part synchronous online training that PDP implemented in collaboration with OTDA and the NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV). Four offerings of this new DVLTI series were delivered this period.
In addition, DTAT collaborated with PDP’s Instructional Technologies Unit (ITU) to update and maintain 19 self-paced (asynchronous) training courses on TA, SNAP, and HEAP topics housed on TrainingSpace.ny.gov, as well as to create a series of promotional materials and tools for county Staff Development Coordinators to use in creating training paths for their staff and register trainees for the broad range of synchronous and asynchronous trainings provided by PDP. Also, this period, the new self-paced HEAP Heating Equipment Clean and Tune course was completed and launched on TrainingSpace. Lastly, design work was completed for a new self-paced course for TA eligibility and financial services staff, titled Burial Assistance and Cost Reimbursement for Deceased Persons Who Are Indigent. Content development, graphics design, programming, and course launching will occur during the next report period.
6.2.8 Child Support Training and Outreach Project
The Child Support Training and Outreach Project (CSTOP) supports the NYS Division of Child Support Services statewide workforce training needs through the development and deployment of innovative and engaging training and work performance support activities. While already offering a good share of its training remotely under normal circumstances, the project team quickly moved to transition content from its three-day onsite training for new workers, CS101, into a series of one-hour online offerings. Due to the ongoing restrictions that prevented any in-person training during the past year these online options enabled new workers in the districts to simulate attending this important new worker training by still having access to the same material and learning opportunities as presented in the traditional CS101, just in a new way!
6.2.9 Instructional Technologies Unit
PDP’s Instructional Technologies Unit (ITU) works in close partnerships with its sponsors to design, develop, implement, and maintain a wide range of web-based products, including online trainings, applications, reporting tools, learning management systems, websites, and content for social media channels.
In early 2021, ITU staff completed work on the Project on International Security, Commerce, and Economic Statecraft (PISCES) learning management system and Know Your Customer training for the University at Albany’s Center for Policy Research. The custom-built learning management system houses six interactive, self-paced trainings covering strategic trade controls and compliance for government officials in the United States and other countries.
ITU and Media Production staff teamed up to design and deliver several new interactive, self-paced, web-based trainings for child care providers and offered through the Early Childhood Education and Training Program (ECETP), sponsored by OCFS. Media Use and Safety with Children guides learners through ways that technology affects children in the major domains of development and has over 14,000 registrations since the end of 2020. Trainees learn how to support young children, and their families who are dual language learners in the Supporting Language Development: Birth to 5 course, with over 13,500 registrations.
ITU staff works closely with the OTDA to post courses and materials to TrainingSpace, a custom-built training portal for state and local district staff. TrainingSpace registrations and completions doubled in the first half of 2021, as NYS-mandated trainings were offered to OTDA staff through TrainingSpace. ITU staff also created a custom gateway for vendor staff administering the Emergency Rental Assistance Program for OTDA to access trainings. ITU staff launched and updated numerous trainings on the topics of administering SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program) to local districts.
ITU staff also updates and maintains the OTDA website. In 2020 and 2021, staff created and maintained informational pages for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT), Emergency Rental Assistance Program, the Landlord Rental Assistance Program, and the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program. ITU continues to ensure the site and its documents comply with state and federal guidelines for accessibility.
6.2.10 Evaluation Unit
During the past year, the Evaluation Unit staff consisted of one full-time Senior Research Scientist, one part-time Research Scientist, and two PhD graduate assistants, who worked on an ever increasing number of quantitative and qualitative in-house evaluation projects. All routine quarterly reports and other sponsor-requested evaluation projects were completed by the evaluation staff. Our Research Scientist oversees the training evaluation reports for the Public Service Workshops Program (PSWP) initiatives. The PSWP has a special projects component that includes the New York State Leadership Institute (NYSLI). This highly regarded annual program is targeted to employees in positions of leadership. The Senior Research Scientist has worked on a range of evaluation projects during this time period including designing new surveys, analyzing training data and annual needs assessments. All work conducted by the Evaluation Unit supports ongoing PDP projects.
6.2.11 Department of Child Welfare Training
Working with Alcohol and Substance Affected Families
PDP continued to provide the following virtual offerings, finalized in 2020: Opioid Use and Family Dynamics, Opiates and Child Welfare, and Overview of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. These trainings address current trends in substance use and how it impacts families. Provided to child welfare staff throughout the state, they received consistent positive feedback.
“The FASP course was extremely informative and provided details regarding elements of the FASP that were never explained. After 13 years completing FASP, I can say that I learned a lot from attending this training.”
— From a training participant
PDP staff also worked to convert Working with Substance Affected Families (WASAF), the project’s foundational course, to a virtual offering in 2021. This course has been very well received by the field and has helped support and strengthen foundational knowledge around substance use and its impact on child welfare.
Project staff trained 827 participants through four virtual course offerings; Opiates in Child Welfare, Opioid Use and Family Dynamics, Overview of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and Working with Substance Affected Families (WASAF).
In 2021, PDP began developing material for a special topic training to assist the Administration for Children Services Close to Home providers on how to address child welfare and juvenile justice perspectives in the FASP. Three two-day training offerings were provided for 90 casework staff and supervisors during the second and third quarters of 2021.
PDP project staff also worked to convert Family Assessment and Service Plan (FASP) with Foster Care to a virtual offering and will begin delivering to the field in 2022.
Project staff trained over 1,736 participants on the FASP and Progress Notes this year. Feedback was consistently very positive.
Child Forensic Interviewing
PDP partnered with the Zero Abuse Project to provide 20 five-day child forensic interviewing trainings, 18 advanced special topic trainings, and six webinars throughout the year. The five-day child forensic interviewing training incorporates the use of adult actors who portray children during skills demonstrations. PDP has established an experienced pool of actors who provide an opportunity for child forensic interviewers to practice their use of the ChildFirst® Protocol.
“I just wanted to say what an amazing event this was! What an honor it was to see and hear all of those amazing young men and women speak so powerfully about their lives. Thank you for having me and I look forward to next year’s event!”
— From a Program Coordinator, Berkshire Farm Center & Services for Youth
Statewide Youth Services Training
PDP collaborated with the OCFS Division of Youth Development and Partnerships for Success, Bureau of Training and Development, and Child Welfare and Community Services Regional Office staff to plan, develop, and deliver one virtual Youth Event and Speak Out. The workshops throughout the event were developed and facilitated by the OCFS/PDP youth interns with support from project staff. The event’s theme, Striving for Success, was the guiding principle of the inspiring keynote address, given by Dr. John (Push) Gaines.
Over 47 youth and 48 adult partners attended the Youth Event across the state.
Project staff trained more than 2,337 youth services staff and foster parents this year and completed over 149 training days. Course topics including Transition Planning, Adolescent Sexuality, Money Management, and Motivating and Engaging Youth provide skill development opportunities to aid in the process of successfully transitioning youth from care to self-sufficiency in adulthood.
New to the 2021 contract year, PDP staff were able to recruit and contract with six adults who have lived experience in care. These adults acted as independent consultants on the project, providing feedback on training, curricula, and other activities to project staff. This has helped strengthen and enrich youth voice throughout the project.
6.2.12 Department of Media Production
Media Production continued to expand its client base in 2020 and 2021. The need to pivot to distance learning brought multiple new projects to the PDP Studio on the UAlbany campus. Media Production faced unique challenges in quickly becoming proficient with new platforms like Zoom and Webex. They integrated these technologies into the studio to deliver live productions for the UAlbany community, such as the UAlbany Fall University Address, the Extended President’s Council, and the University Spring Address. Media Production also partnered with the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER) to shift the New York State Leadership Institute (NYSLI) from an in-person event to a virtual training.
PDP’s ongoing work with stakeholders continued to produce educational and instructional products for multiple populations across the state. For OCFS, Media produced training to support child care providers and regulatory staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Guidance and Best Practice for Child Care Providers Operating During the COVID-19 Emergency clarified interim guidelines for child care and day camp programs operating during the COVID-19 emergency pandemic and offered suggestions for best practices where applicable. PDP delivered 12 live sessions over a two-week period and trained over 8,400 child day care providers. Supporting Children in Child Care During the COVID-19 Emergency offered OCFS an opportunity to show their support for children and families as child care programs worked to re-open or continue to provide care during the pandemic. This training was broadcast from the PDP Studio live in English and Spanish to over 3,400 trainees.
To help child care providers meet their training requirements, three new e-learnings were added to the catalog. Information and Resources to Promote a Successful Program focuses on the areas child care programs should focus on to meet the necessary legal requirements, how to identify community resources, and the importance of building partnerships in the child care community. Media Use and Safety with Children provides information and strategies for keeping children safe and engaging in good decision making in a cyber-dominant world. This e-learning also helps identify alternatives to technology and encourages children to turn off the technology and interact with the world around them. Supporting Language Development: Birth to 5 focuses on supporting young children as they learn language, with a focus on dual language learning and language revitalization in Tribal child care programs. With interviews from national experts in the field of early childhood development, providers learn strategies for promoting oral language development, engaging with families, and bringing children’s culture and home languages into everyday child care programming.
New virtual class training included Supporting Mental Health through Quality Programming and Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) Process. Both topics, led by a PDP trainer, are delivered in the evening and on weekends to give child care providers the opportunity to delve into these topics, supported by video elements and ample trainee interaction.
Media Production also collaborated with the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance on multiple products. The team developed two Acknowledgment of Parentage videos to assist unmarried parents, as well as married or unmarried parents of a child conceived through assisted reproductive technology, with establishing legal parentage for their child and completing the appropriate documentation. PDP Media Production also created a video with an opening message from the OTDA Commissioner to give the public information about New York State’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), which provides economic relief to help low- and moderate-income households at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability. For Front-End Detection System (FEDS) training, PDP Media Production collaborated with OTDA Division of Audit and Quality Improvement staff to develop a training video explaining how local social services districts can use the FEDS tool to identify potential fraud and abuse of public benefits. PDP Media completed both studio and field video production and editing and created several auxiliary materials to complement the video. For Crisis Management in the Shelter Setting and Managing Conflict at Work, PDP Media Production completed script development and studio recording with content experts and produced videos for shelter workers discussing how to appropriately manage and respond to crisis, and how to manage conflict in a homeless shelter setting. The team edited together an interview-style discussion of strategies and tips, and added and revised graphics. To help combat Vaccine Hesitancy, PDP Media Production created videos addressing vaccine hesitancy and the necessity of COVID-19 vaccinations to protect public health. The videos are available in English and Spanish.
6.2.13 Health Workforce Retraining Initiative
Under eight state funding cycles with the NYS Department of Health, PDP’s Health Workforce Retraining Initiative worked with partner state agencies, Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), Office of Mental Health (OMH), and Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), to help shape a nursing workforce best prepared to meet the needs of agency populations, to bolster the numbers of staff available to fill nursing positions, to alleviate the shortage of nurses qualified to fill nurse leadership positions, and to improve the ability of agencies to recruit and retain experienced RN staff. Despite the sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the initial hurdle it presented to conduct this project’s work activity remotely, PDP quickly adapted procedures and the HWRI program continued functioning at a strong clip until it ended in December 2020 due to NYS fiscal constraints.
6.2.14 Homeless Services Training Resource System
One of New York’s greatest assets in the fight to end homelessness is the people who work in shelters. As the daily challenges faced by shelter staff continue to grow, so does the demand for a workforce with increasingly sophisticated knowledge and skills. Under a contract with the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), the Professional Development Program (PDP) offers training for staff of emergency shelters and supportive housing programs, as well as for staff of social services districts and other governmental entities who are serving homeless adults and families, or those at risk of homelessness.
This relatively new project, having just begun in 2019, offered only classroom-based training regionally across NYS. Due to the pandemic, this project made an about-face and began transitioning course content for remote delivery for all courses in the second half of 2020, resulting in a dramatically increased number of participants by June 2021. Over the longer term, offering courses in these new formats (such as live remote online or asynchronous recorded sequences) will allow virtual attendance by individuals, whose work schedules and travel restrictions might otherwise prevent them from attending an onsite offering. This project also benefits from the dedication and commitment of two full-time PDP staff who spend countless hours of their own time volunteering at local shelters. Both of these individuals were recognized by Joseph’s House for their contributions.
6.2.15 Information Systems and Programming (ISP)
During this period, as the COVID-19 pandemic eased, a significant amount of PDP staff were able to return to the office although remote work continued. This hybrid approach required continued support of several communication and collaboration tools including MS Teams, Zoom, Webex, and Jabber. Information Systems and Programming (ISP) staff began using Rescue Assist, a software tool to provide remote support to all staff to help provide all PDP staff with support regardless of location. ISP staff also began using a software tool capable of tracking support tickets via email requests and through a new website https://pdp.freshdesk.com. This new ticket system works so well it is anticipated it will be used by PDP developers to support application/programming tickets in the future. ISP staff also supported the PDP Studio and numerous video productions and studio upgrades. ISP led the migration of PDP’s SharePoint sites and decommissioned the existing server farm. The update uses the latest version of SharePoint, while hosting it within the University at Albany’s existing ITS infrastructure. This enabled the decommissioning of several aging PDP SharePoint servers, while avoiding the need for costly server replacements.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic eased during this period, PDP applications and websites continued to see increased usage and demand from users. This required PDP SQL Server migration, which involved moving all PDP data and updating all applications to connect to new SQL server hardware using the latest version of Microsoft SQL.
A sponsor initiative required PDP to verify the Early Childhood Education and Training Program (ECETP) website user information with CCFS data to enable the sponsor the ability to mail a medical device to specific authorized child care providers. PDP designed several modules which connected to NYS OCFS’s CCFS web services and provided logic to match existing users while updating ECETP user profiles. Designing this routine to share verified user information with CCFS provided the sponsor with the data required to mail essential medical devices to child care providers throughout NYS.
Great progress was made toward the design and development of the new Scholarship Platform which is expected to process 15,000 scholarship awards totaling over $5 million annually. This major initiative will redevelop the Educational Incentive Program (EIP) systems from scratch, requiring a new data model and buildout of a new fully online system to provide intake of EIP and QS applications, while also providing major system functions to EIP back-office staff throughout the EIP application life cycle, including a new digital payment request process with the SUNY Research Foundation. Throughout this ongoing development, ISP staff worked closely with EIP staff to determine design requirements and was able to identify/implement several important security upgrades to further protect users’ personal information and tracking enhancements to prevent fraud. One of the requirements of this project is that years of existing EIP records and data must be migrated to the new system. Several upgrades to the Medical Administration Training (MAT) reports and to the online exam module routinely used by MAT participants were implemented, including adding multi-language capabilities to exams. As the exam module is used across several PDP programs, each program received the same upgrades.
ISP Departmental coding guidelines were updated to include “Guidelines for eXtreme Programming (XP) Methodology”, further defining coding standards and practices used to develop PDP systems.