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Dedicated RTA Staff Deliver

Regional Training Academy (RTA) Coordination Project staff are, from left, Training and Evaluation Analyst Esmirna (Esmi) Ramirez, Training and Curriculum Specialist Phyllis Jeroslow, Distance Education Specialist Mauricio Wright, Training and Curriculum Specialists Melinda Iremonger and Jennifer Cannell, Director Melissa Connelly, Training and Curriculum Specialists Joanne Pritchard and Shay O'Brien, and Efforts to Outcomes (ETO) Director Tara Lain


July 7, 2016

Read more about the RTA Coordination Project

RELATED: RTA undergoes staff changes

Director Melissa Connelly joined the Regional Training Academy (RTA) Coordination Project in 2008 and in 2014 was appointed to her current position. Her background includes 10 years of child welfare direct service as a social worker and supervisor. Since joining CalSWEC, she has worked on the California Common Core Curriculum for new child welfare workers, projects related to the California Child and Family Services Review, and After18 training. She also supports the County Welfare Directors Association (CWDA)  in their work to develop the California Child Welfare Core Practice Model.

Training and Curriculum Specialist Jennifer Cannell leads the coordination of Common Core 3.0 statewide revision efforts. “The impetus is to ensure that Core training provides new social workers with key information in a format that streamlines knowledge acquisition and facilitates skill building,” she explains. Since the development of the initial Common Core, Ms. Cannell notes, “Training has evolved to include more technology and more innovative ways to support transfer of learning and skill development. The field has also evolved, as California moves toward the implementation of its Child Welfare Core Practice Model.” Ms. Cannell’s coordination efforts include facilitating statewide training standardization, curricula development, training delivery pilots, and implementation. Additionally, she coordinates the interface of implementing field-based training activities and conducting evaluation of the training system. She also supports the development of supervisor training, the California Child Welfare Core Practice Model, and other state initiative projects as needed. Ms. Cannell joined CalSWEC in 2015. Her 20 years of diverse social work experience includes non-profit advocacy and leadership, hospital social work, child welfare, capacity building, and training and implementation in child welfare services. She earned her M.S.W. from the University of Nevada, Reno and completed her undergraduate education at the University of California, Santa Barbara. 

Jennifer Cannell and Melinda Iremonger will be presenting on Common Core 3.0: Supervisor Training and the Integration of Field-Based Learning on October 7 from 8:30 to 10:00 am at the upcoming CWDA Conference October 5–7 at the Anaheim Marriott.

Training and Curriculum Specialist Melinda Iremonger is currently involved in revising Common Core Curricula modules for Supervisors, updating and modifying Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) materials for the web-based toolkit, collaborating with stakeholders to revise and modify the Resource Family Approval (RFA) trainings and materials, in addition to the web-based toolkit. She also works closely with CDSS in the training and revision of necessary materials for Continuum of Care Reform (CCR). Ms. Iremonger has a wealth of experience as a social worker and supervisor in El Dorado and Yolo counties and as a social service consultant with CDSS. Immediately prior to joining CalSWEC, Ms. Iremonger was a social service consultant with the CDSS Child Welfare Program Policy and Program Development Bureau, where she developed regulations, policies, and procedures related to Child Welfare Services. Since 2012, she has been an M.S.W. field instructor at California State University, Sacramento, where she earned her M.S.W.

Training and Curriculum Specialist Phyllis Jeroslowwho joined CalSWEC in 2004, contributed for several years to the development of the first statewide series of Common Core Curricula for Child Welfare Workers and Supervisors. She has produced 10 statewide symposia on Fairness and Equity Issues in Child Welfare Training and Education, a forum for achieving greater equity, sensitivity, and social justice in child welfare practice through workforce development and systems change. She currently leads a workgroup of state, regional, research, and advocacy partners charged with coordinating statewide training for the provision of mental health services for children involved in the child welfare system. Ms. Jeroslow is about to complete her doctoral dissertation at the UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare.  She is published as a sole author in the Routledge Handbook on Poverty in the US and in the annual Social Policy Review (Policy Press). Additionally, she has presented her research about poverty and government investments in early childhood at international academic conferences in Washington, D.C., New York, Europe, Australia, and South Africa.

RELATED: Daphne Short Is New Efforts to Outcomes Project Director

Tara Lain is Project Director of the Efforts to Outcomes (ETO) Self-Evaluation Program, which builds capacity for the collection of “gap” data not tracked in the current SACWIS system and enables outcome measurement and self-evaluation. Using web-based, modular software called Efforts to Outcome (ETO) developed by Social Solutions, the evaluation program allows flexibility of program type within each county and can be configured to meet the needs of an identified program. Ms. Lain has been with ETO since its implementation nine years ago and has built five major programs: ILP (Independent Living Program)–Transition Age Youth, Team Decision Making (TDM), Foster Parent Recruitment & Foster Parent Retention (Supporting Resource Family Approval (RFA)), California Partners for Permanency (CAPP), and Child & Family Teaming (CFT). ETO was identified in 2006 as versatile enough to meet the varied needs of Independent Living Programs. An enterprise license was purchased by Child and Family Policy Institute of California (CFPIC) with funding from The Annie E. CaseyStuart, and The Walter S. Johnson foundations. Initially five counties entered into agreements; today 29 counties are participating. Ms. Lain has experience in research design, program evaluation, and quantitative and qualitative methods of data analysis. She provides ETO training, support, program design, implementation, and self-evaluation technical assistance to the 29 counties. For seven years, Ms. Lain was a protective services social worker in case management, program evaluation, and outcomes development with expertise in the California SACWIS system.  She holds a B.A. with Honors in Psychology and an M.A. in Psychology from California State University, Stanislaus. 

Training and Curriculum Specialist Shay O’Brien joined CalSWEC in 2015. She has developed curriculum materials for the Quality Assurance component of the Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) process and coordinates the ongoing improvements to training documents for the CFSR Onsite Review Instrument (Case Review) Training. Working closely with CDSS partners, Ms. O’Brien has also created curriculum materials for the Relative and Non-Relative Extended Family Member Criminal Background Check Process. Currently she is working to expand the reach and impact of the Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI) Just-in-Time training website. In partnership with the QPI counties and caregivers, she will be identifying, capturing, and disseminating online training content that covers the most useful, in-demand topics. Ms. O’Brien earned her Master’s in Social Welfare Administration at the University of Kansas. She has worked with homeless women and children, domestic violence survivors, and transition-age foster youth. Additionally, she has 15 years’ research experience in education, public policy, and program evaluation.

Training and Curriculum Specialist Joanne Pritchard coordinates the statewide efforts related to Common Core 3.0 field activities. She facilitates monthly calls and in-person meetings with partners from the RTAs, counties, CDSS, and other training entities to gather feedback and develop products to support the implementation of those CC 3.0 field activities. Ms. Pritchard joined CalSWEC in 2012 as the lead for the Education Equals grant. She soon transitioned to the CC 3.0 work, providing support for planning, implementation, and curriculum development. Ms. Pritchard has an M.A. in Counseling Psychology and over 15 years’ experience in the field of public child welfare as a practitioner, supervisor, trainer, and curriculum developer. Special areas of interest in child welfare practice include Team Decision Making, Child Welfare Skills-Based Coaching, and Restorative Practices.

Training and Evaluation Analyst Esmirna (Esmi) Ramirez provides support to CalSWEC’s Research and Evaluation team, conducts research to inform the development and revision of curriculum training products, and provides logistical support to other workforce development activities for the RTA Coordination Project. She works closely with the Research and Evaluation team to develop evaluation materials and instruments to evaluate Common Core 3.0; assists with data processing and analysis; and provides bimonthly Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children statewide training reports to CDSS and the RTAs. This year, Ms. Ramirez assisted with the convening of the 19th annual National Human Services Training Evaluation Symposium (NHSTES) at UC Berkeley. To support curriculum development, she works with CalSWEC’s curriculum specialists developing and analyzing stakeholder vetting surveys used to inform content revision; generates formative evaluation instruments to collect feedback from observers during the piloting of curriculum; and conducts literature reviews to inform content development and revision. She is currently working on updating the ICWA curricula to reflect the latest changes in federal and state guidelines and regulations. Ms. Ramirez is also tasked as a training coordinator for California Quality Parenting Initiative Just-in-Time Training Project. She is responsible for assessing elearning training needs; coordinating the film production of training, and responding to caregiver training requests. Ms. Ramirez earned her M.S.W. from the University of Michigan, where she focused on Social Policy and Program Evaluation.

Distance Education Specialist Mauricio Wright, working with the RTA Technical Team staff across the state, helps coordinate the development of e-learnings and training support through online resources. He administers the CalSWEC Learning Management System (LMS), the central delivery platform for Common Core 3.0’s online component and other statewide trainings, including the  training module.  Once fully implemented at the end of 2017, Common Core 3.0 is slated to offer 24 online training modules statewide. Since January 2016, the state has gone live with three of those, two of which were produced by CalSWEC’s In-service Training Team and one two-part module produced by PCWTA.  Mr. Wright is also tasked with expanding the Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI) Just-In-Time Training Library that provides resources for strengthening foster care by refocusing on excellent parenting for all children in the child welfare system. Since joining CalSWEC in 2015, he has been responsible for over 20 new additions within Attachment, Behavior, CSEC, LGBTQ, and more. A 2016 UC Berkeley Spot Award recipient, Mr. Wright is a graduate of San Francisco State University’s Cinematography program. He has 11 years of media and curriculum development experience within the field of education, including seven years in higher education. He previously worked at the Berkeley Resource Center for Online Education (BRCOE), where he was a production specialist and member of the media development team.