At times a supervisor feels that a program has run into difficulty, is considering making changes or is even just wondering about the program functioning. At these times it is useful to conduct a program review. A program review differs from a program evaluation in that a review does not compare the program to some external measure but rather describes and appraises a program, using the experience of staff, youth and service consumers as a base. Throughout the process of review, the consultant reflects on the functioning of the program as it compares to what is known about effective youth care and family practice. The end result is a descriptive document highlighting strengths and possible areas of improvement for the program, including recommendations for program change or enhancement. A properly conducted program review ia an energizing experience for all involved in the process.
Revitalizing Teams & Programs
At times a team or a program, for a variety of reasons, may either fail to function effectively, or may develop ineffective forms of functioning. Like all systems, team or program functioning is subject to a multitude of influences; personal, organizational and contextual. When a team or program develops an ineffective form of functioning it is difficult for those who are part of that system to `see clearly' and intervene objectively. A consultant, either for the supervisor or the team/program, brings a different way of seeing, The consultant can either help design a plan for program renewal, support the interventions of others or intervene directly to facilitate the necessary systemic changes to re-vitalize the team or program. New energy or direction can be stimulated by effective consultation.
Designing & Implementing New Programs
The development and implementation of a new program is a complex process. It requires an understanding of program structure, an awareness of the relationship between philosophy and practice, an understanding of organizational dynamics and knowledge of the field of practice which is the focus of the program. Effective consultation can shorten the process and help to ensure an effective future for the new program by anticipating and preparing for many of the common set-backs.
Restructuring Resources & Programs
In these times, it is not uncommon for the organization to have to consider how they can best allocate the available resources. A consultant familiar with the many aspects of organizations which serve troubled youth and their families can assist the organization to consider creative alternatives in these situations. With an understanding of typical job functions and areas of over-lapping expertise, the consultant can help the organization make program changes which respond to the shrinking resources and yet continue to deliver effective services. The consultant can also help the organization to prepare a process for staff which will support them through this period of transition thereby reducing the stress placed on the programs and individuals within the organization. The development of an effective action plan, and a knowledge of the process of organizational change, help the consultant to create transformations which are effective.
Resolving a Specific Concern
All organizations or programs at times encounter specific concerns which are difficult to resolve given the current resources or the agency. This may involve, for example, dealing with the attitudes or behaviours of some staff, resolving conflict with the community, developing staff training to meet a changing need, responding to a changing client population, developing a philosophy of treatment, or creating a vision for the organization. A consultant can work with the existing team to stimulate new ways of re-thinking the concern so that alternatives become available for consideration and implementation. Such an intervention by a consultant can be brief or extended, depending on the nature of the concern.
On-going Case Consultation
One of the most effective ways of providing professional training and education for staff is through the use of on-going case consultation. A consultant with expertise in both case intervention and staff education can combine these two functions. Each case review or consultation then becomes an opportunity for specific and general knowledge and skill development. Through such a process service effectiveness is enhanced in the short-term and the long-term.