Impact of work environment on training transfer, child welfare workers' experiences

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Lichti, Christine
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Inservice training has gained popularity in the field of child welfare. Program pl nning literature suggests that evaluation should be included in any program plan. Unfortunately, evaluation is often a missing component in in-service training programs. When conducted, evaluations frequently focus on the training event itself and stop short of assessing whether training participants have applied the training on the job. The work environment is increasingly recognized as impacting successful transfer of training. Grounded theory methodology was used in this largely qualitative evaluation of transfer of Competency-Based Inservice Training (CBIT) at Winnipeg Child and Family Services (WCFS). Post-training evaluations were analysed to determine work environment factors that may inhibit transfer. One hundred and twenty social workers who had completed the CBIT at WCFS were sent the "Human Services Training Effectiveness Postcard" (Curry & Chandler, 1999, p.43). Fifty-four percent (65) of the sample completed and returned the survey. Theoretical sampling was used to select twelve respondents to participate in focus group interviews. The preliminary evaluation results were shared with each focus group participant and their feedback was integrated into the final report. Participants evaluate the CBIT event positively overall. They are applying parts of the training in their work, but application is inhibited by factors in their work environment. High workload is the most significant barrier to their application of the training. The findings of this evaluation are discussed in light of the literature regarding the competency-based approach, social work education and training in child welfare, and management of inservice training programs. Finally, some recommendations to improve the transfer of CBIT at WCFS are provided.