Q&A: Families Thrive Denver - Trainer's Report

Frank Eckles, Academy for Competent Youth Work and founding partner of Youth in Focus.

Frank Eckles, Academy for Competent Youth Work and founding partner of Youth in Focus.

This spring two Youth in Focus instructors traveled to Denver for a Families Thrive Training of Trainers event. Participants came from several states and represented a variety of settings, including juvenile justice, Latino/Latina services, child protective agencies, and community-based programs. They engaged in five busy days of training that, once complete, authorized them to teach Families Thrive to others. We caught up with Frank Eckles, one of the trainers, to hear how it went.

Q. What were some typical questions you encountered?

A. Participants in Families Thrive trainings don’t always have the same types of questions because they come from such diverse backgrounds and settings—it’s different every time. This group was interested in knowing about each other deeply, and how they planned to implement Families Thrive when they returned to their organizations. They each took time to describe the types of services they offer to children, youth and families, and the organizational context affecting how they would implement what they were learning.

One participant from the Hispanic Development Corporation in Detroit, MI explained that they were thinking about the different language they would need to use in order to teach Families Thrive to their audience. Participants also discussed the differences between urban and rural applications. This early work getting to know each other and their plans for Families Thrive resulted in deep conversation. It also primed the group for close collaboration throughout the training.

A. What story sticks with you the most from the Denver training?

Q. During the introductions toward the beginning of the training, one participant shared that she works with people of Hispanic heritage and one of the things she needed to do during this training was figure out how to take the information and translate it into language that is both culturally relevant and understandable by the people with whom she works. When she did her teach-back of training content, she began by telling a story in Spanish. The purpose of the story was twofold. First, it reinforced to the other participants the impact of not speaking the dominant language and having others, who are often in positions of power, assume that they understood. Secondly, she wanted to share the story itself, which was about a young girl who was new to the United States and didn’t speak English entering school. In the story, the mother was unable to advocate for her child and expected the little girl to talk to teachers on her own behalf.

My co-trainer Rose Ann and I discussed with participants ways that they can connect Families Thrive material to the experiences of people with whom they work, and how to best use stories to demonstrate training content. This is just one example of the implementation approaches people had planned for this Families Thrive course. Others intend to apply it in juvenile justice facilities, with child welfare workers, to support pregnancy prevention efforts, and with community-based program staff. Based on comments from our evaluation surveys, participants considered the training a success and were excited about what Families Thrive could do in their communities.

~ Cindy Carraway-Wilson, Youth Catalytics

Jen Smith