DSS: The Office of Organizational and Skill Development

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The Office Of Organizational & Skill Development
Director's Welcome
What Are We About
The Office of Organizational & Skill Development (OSD)  vision, mission, and goals are an extension of the Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS) vision, mission, goals and priorities.  Each year the OSD Unit reviews and modifies its direction to meet the emerging organizational and staff development needs as identified by DSS.  OSD’s vision, mission, and goals are outlined below.
OSD is a collaborative group of skilled professionals who work from a social justice foundation to support DSS staff and the organization in providing services that are client centered.
We are committed to the philosophy that people are the organization. We support the organization through services that contribute to the development of a learning community that builds the competency of staff and the organization to meet the DSS mission.  Our core services include:
  • Training and Staff Development
  • Organizational Development (OD)
  • Media and graphic support
We provide these services in the context of connecting on sameness, while recognizing, learning from, and affirming differences.
Core Values
“At the core of any human service organization is a set of values, an underlying philosophy that defines the reason for the existence of the organization, the purpose for which it is established” The 1981 Annual Handbook for Group Facilitators.  The Core Values for OSD are:
  • Responsible Participation
  • Initiative/Creativity
  • Communication
  • Honesty/Integrity
  • Embracing Diversity
Our goal is to provide timely, relevant and effective organizational and staff development activities to:
  • Improve the quality and competency of service delivered to DSS customers.
  • Insure a culturally responsive delivery of services that recognizes and affirms diversity.
  • Improve job performance through the institution of measures of accountability to inspire public confidence.
  • Provide employees with opportunities to develop their potential within the context of the organization and overall career development.
  • Assist DSS’ customers and staff to develop skills, understand and access DSS services, comply with DSS policy and support the DSS Vision, Mission, Values, and Goals.
This will be done through:
  • Competency based training for staff to be able perform the functions and activities of their current jobs.
  • Educating employees to assume greater responsibilities for professional growth and development.
  • Participating in the Department’s short and long range initiatives to improve the effectiveness of the organization and its partnerships.
  • Education and organizational activities that integrate service and cultural competency into learning to better prepare DSS to support individuals & families receiving DSS services to
  • Meet basic needs of food, shelter, economic support and health care;
  • Promote and support the choice to live with dignity in one's own home and community;
  • Promote and support the achievement of economic viability in the workforce.
  • Education & training DSS’ external partners to perform tasks and activities that support the DSS Vision, Mission, Values and Goals.
  • Accessing resources that expand DSS’ capacity to provide training, organizational and staff development activities.
  • Instituting systemic interventions that support organizational operations in the area of communication, project management, access, cultural competency and service.
How Are We Structured
OSD has staff in the regional offices and central office of DSS.  We support training and organizational development services on site.  OSD has a Learning Management System, the DSS LearnCenter, to support statewide registration for training and to create more access to OSD supported activities.  The DSS LearnCenter is also utilized to provide web based training (WBT) to support diversity in learning styles and efficiency in OSD services. 
Partnership with UConn School of Social Work
OSD provides services under a partnership with The University of Connecticut School of Social Work (UCONN SSW).  The benefits of this partnership include enhanced Federal Reimbursement for DSS, a connection to the academic community in the field of Social Work and Public Policy as it pertains to welfare and access to the resources of the University to enhance OSD services to DSS. 
The UConn School of Social Work and the Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS) have worked collaboratively for over twenty five years. DSS has an Office of Organizational and Skill Development (OSD) that provides training and organizational development services to DSS and its staff. The OSD staff and the services are part of a formal partnership between the school and DSS. This arrangement insures effectiveness, efficiency, and shared resources that benefit the partners, clients and The State of Connecticut.
OSD is staffed by professionals from the School of Social Work who provide a variety of training, media and organizational development activities to the agency's nearly 2,000 employees. Operating under a contractual agreement for more than 25 years, the partnership has changed over time to meet DSS' developing needs.
Education and training for DSS staff and its partners is focused on programs, leadership and professional growth and development. DSS staff are provided regular training opportunities in a range of program areas such as Medicaid, child care, child support, elderly services, TANF, foodstamps and case management. In addition civil rights, supervisory, managerial and systems training are part of an employee’s growth and development plan. A media production center develops educational materials for training projects, group presentations, and other needs through newsletters, videotapes, and other communications tools. Organizational development activities are initiated and managed by the OSD staff to support service effectiveness and efficient processes. Cultural responsiveness and social justice are fundamental part of training and organizational design services. Graduate students from the School of Social Work are placed as interns in DSS departments.
What are the services of OSD
OSD provides an expansive grouping of Training, Organizational Development (OD) and Media and Production Services to DSS.  OSD is deployed in four service areas – Programs; Leadership and Professional Development; Administrative; and Special Projects Service Areas.  In each of the four service areas the foundational services of training, organizational development and media services are provided by specialists. 
The staff in OSD hold the designation of Organizational and Skill Development Consultants and Project Managers, Educational Media Associate, Executive Media Producer, Administrative Assistant, Secretary and Director.   Each person in OSD has an area of specialty and expertise that has been achieved through experience, skills and academic preparation. 

Programs Service Area
The Programs Service Area is comprised of OSD staff that provide OD and training to the staff that deliver programs.  The Programs Service Area has the responsibility for training new staff and supporting ongoing skill development to increase service, cultural competency, efficiency and effectiveness.  In addition to ongoing support, the service area provides training in any new initiatives or in program changes to DSS staff.  OD services to the Programs area are another critical component to insure that the organizational processes support staff and service to clients. 

Highlights of the Programs Service Area
CORE (Curriculum, Orientation, Reinforcement and Enrichment) training for new Eligibility employees – CORE training is divided into 3 tracks of training with each track focused on building competencies for each programmatic area - Basics; Family; Adult.  Cultural competency, service, policy, procedures and Eligibility Management System (EMS) processing are integrated into each day of training.  (23 days of training).
CORE training for new Child Support employees – Competency based training for new employees that will be delivering Child Support Services. Cultural competency, service, policy, procedures and CCSES processing are integrated into each day of training.  (14 days of training).

Programs training – The continued updating and building of skills related to programs - Foodstamp, Child Support, Medicaid, Temporary Family Assistance, State Supplement, State Administered General Assistance (SAGA), Voluntary Paternity Establishment, Social Work, etc..
OD initiatives – Initiatives to support efficiency, effectiveness and service.  Examples include Workload Management, Best Practices and Reception Area Analysis. 
Support for Partners – The provision of training and OD services to partners of DSS to support service and the sustainability of a social services home that reaches into the community for clients.  Examples include the Human Services Infrastructure (HSI), EMS Inquiry training and HUSKY Forums.
Leadership and Professional Development Service Area
The Leadership and Professional Development Service Area is compromised of OSD staff that provide OD and training services to all staff to foster personal and professional growth and development to create a learning organization.  The Leadership and Professional Development Service Area supports staff to consistently enhance their skills to support innovation through leadership and knowledge. 
Highlights of the Leadership and Professional Development Services Area
Leadership Development Training – Competency based training for employees that will be are or may become organizational leaders. Cultural competency, service, interpersonal skills, participative management and leadership skills are integrated into each day of training.  Examples include Overview of Supervision;  Positive Influence and Interpersonal Skills; Effective Coaching and Training; Leading and Facilitating Effective Meetings; etc.

Professional Education – Competency based training for employees that are or may become organizational leaders. Cultural competency, service, interpersonal skills, participative management and leadership skills are integrated into each day of training.  Examples include The Resiliency Factor; The Helping Relationship; Managing Multiple Priorities; Effective Project Management; etc.
Personal Education – Training and enrichment programs that support personal growth with skills that can be integrated into the workplace.  Examples include The Career Mobility Workshop; Telephone Usage for Quality Service; Basic Time Management; Pumping Neurons; etc.
Employee Fundamentals – Competency based training for employees in the fundamental operating policies and protocols that DSS employees are responsible for.  Examples include Welcome to DSS – Your Role; Affirmative Action; Sexual Harassment; Workplace Diversity and Cultural Responsiveness; Preventing Workplace Violence; The American With Disabilities Act; etc.
Administrative Services Area
The Administrative Services Area is comprised of OSD staff that provide Organizational Development (OD), training, media, production and support services to all staff to facilitate the use of technology and media to enhance service provision.  Media production and design, web based training design and development, conference planning and the learning management system enhance staff skill and service provision.
Highlights of the Administrative Services Area
Software training & Support- Microsoft Office; Adobe; Graphics, etc.  Competency based training and OD to integrate technology and function to enhance effectiveness and create access in service delivery.
Software Support - OSD has 2 professional staff, Peter.Petrella@ct.gov and Patricia.Tartaglino@ct.gov dedicated to providing follow-up and technical support for staff needing assistance implementing the techniques they learned in training.
Production and Media – The design of educational campaigns (posters, brochures, video) and materials to facilitate access, education and use of agency programs.  
Web Based Training (WBT) – The design of competency based training  or presentations that can be taken via the web.  Examples included HIPAA Privacy; SNAP (formerly Foodstamps);  Confidentiality;  Information about Family Councils, etc.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) - The creation of digital maps using local, State, and/or Federal data to support efforts such as program planning, grant development, and program evaluation. These maps can be provided in a number of either print forms or digital formats for inclusion in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) documents, Word documents, or PowerPoint presentations.  Examples can be found on the DSSWeb in the 'General Information' folder.
Research - OSD provides research support that includes but is not limited to literature reviews, quantiative and qualitative statistical analyses, and deployment of online surveys. Training in areas such as evidence-based practice (EBP), results-based accountability (RBA), and needs assessment are offered as well.
Support Services – The provision of support services to DSS staff to enhance educational engagement.  Examples include room reservations; event planning; equipment loan; etc.
The DSSLearnCenter is an Internet-based Learning Management System (LMS) which provides users with easy access to view and register for Instructor-Led Courses, Web-Based Courses, Learner Assessments and other training and professional development opportunities offered by the Office of Organizational and Skill Development (OSD). Supervisors and Managers have the ability to track their staff’s professional development as well as enroll their staff in training related activities. Users can also easily view and print transcript information.  From an administrative perspective, the DSSLearnCenter brings together student profile information, course information and content, training and testing statistics, usage tracking, and report generation.

Special Projects Service Area
This service area operates as an organizational development center.  It includes projects that are internal and external to DSS and that require collaboration with many partners.   Projects in this service area often require specific expertise.

Highlights of the Special Projects Service Area
CT Prevention Council; Fetal Infant Mortality Review/AHEC; Health Disparities);  Community Planning Group, Asian Family Services Advisory Committee, Methamphetamines Task Force; Fatherhood Initiative
Connecticut Department of Social Services
55 Farmington Avenue
Hartford, Connecticut 06106