Standards for private organizations

2020 Edition

Wilderness and Adventure-Based Therapeutic Outdoor Services (WT) 2: Personnel

Program personnel have the competency and support needed to provide services and meet the needs of youth.

Interpretation

Competency can be demonstrated through education, training, or experience. Support can be provided through supervision or other learning activities to improve understanding or skill development in specific areas.
2020 Edition

Currently viewing: WILDERNESS AND ADVENTURE-BASED THERAPEUTIC OUTDOOR SERVICES (WT)

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Purpose

Youth who participate in Wilderness and Adventure-based Therapeutic Outdoor Services expand individual capabilities, develop self-confidence and insight, ameliorate symptoms, and improve interpersonal skills and relationships.
1
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
2
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,  
  • With some exceptions, staff (direct service providers, supervisors, and program managers) possess the required qualifications, including education, experience, training, skills, temperament, etc., but the integrity of the service is not compromised; or
  • Supervisors provide additional support and oversight, as needed, to the few staff without the listed qualifications; or 
  • Most staff who do not meet educational requirements are seeking to obtain them; or 
  • With few exceptions, staff have received required training, including applicable specialized training; or
  • Training curricula are not fully developed or lack depth; or
  • Training documentation is consistently maintained and kept up-to-date with some exceptions; or
  • A substantial number of supervisors meet the requirements of the standard, and the organization provides training and/or consultation to improve competencies when needed; or
  • With few exceptions, caseload sizes are consistently maintained as required by the standards or as required by internal policy when caseload has not been set by a standard; or
  • Workloads are such that staff can effectively accomplish their assigned tasks and provide quality services and are adjusted as necessary; or
  • Specialized services are obtained as required by the standards.
3
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards.  Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • A significant number of staff (direct service providers, supervisors, and program managers) do not possess the required qualifications, including education, experience, training, skills, temperament, etc.; and as a result, the integrity of the service may be compromised; or
  • Job descriptions typically do not reflect the requirements of the standards, and/or hiring practices do not document efforts to hire staff with required qualifications when vacancies occur; or 
  • Supervisors do not typically provide additional support and oversight to staff without the listed qualifications; or
  • A significant number of staff have not received required training, including applicable specialized training; or
  • Training documentation is poorly maintained; or
  • A significant number of supervisors do not meet the requirements of the standard, and the organization makes little effort to provide training and/or consultation to improve competencies; or
  • There are numerous instances where caseload sizes exceed the standards' requirements or the requirements of internal policy when a caseload size is not set by the standard; or
  • Workloads are excessive, and the integrity of the service may be compromised; or 
  • Specialized staff are typically not retained as required and/or many do not possess the required qualifications; or
  • Specialized services are infrequently obtained as required by the standards.
4
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards.
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Table of contents of training curricula
  • Sample job descriptions from across relevant job categories
  • Training curricula
  • Documentation tracking staff completion of required trainings and/or competencies
  • Caseload size requirements set by policy, regulation, or contract, when applicable
  • Documentation of current caseload size per worker
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Review personnel files

 

WT 2.01

All group leaders, instructors, or persons assuming responsibility for individual or group supervision of youth must be at least 21 years of age.

 

WT 2.02

Clinical oversight is provided by a professional with:
  1. an advanced degree in a mental health field, therapeutic or experiential education, or another human service field;
  2. appropriate licensure; and
  3. experience in the field of therapeutic, adventure programming.
NA The organization does not provide clinical services.

 

WT 2.03

Individuals responsible for on-site program coordination and supervision of personnel are qualified by at least three years of progressively responsible experience in an outdoor adventure service for at-risk or troubled youth.
Examples: On-site program coordination and supervision of personnel can be provided by the individual responsible for clinical oversight.

 

WT 2.04

Personnel include at least one mental health professional in a management or supervisory role who:
  1. provides or arranges for the direct clinical services specified in the service plan; and
  2. facilitates collaboration with external service providers.
NA The organization does not provide clinical services.

 
Fundamental Practice

WT 2.05

Individuals who assume responsibility for supervision of youth in the field are trained on, or demonstrate competency in:
  1. navigating and operating in a given terrain;
  2. using materials and equipment employed in the field;
  3. interpreting and responding to changes in weather and environmental conditions; 
  4. improvising solutions to unanticipated problems and emergencies in the field such as environmental hazards, harmful plants or animals, and extreme weather conditions; and
  5. conducting medical evacuation, when applicable.

 

WT 2.06

Group leaders and direct service personnel are trained on, or demonstrate competency in:
  1. providing an appropriate environment for youth to carry out their role in the overall service program;
  2. guiding youth in their development and their ability to use service resources;
  3. engaging in therapeutic interactions with youth;
  4. teaching experientially and serving as effective role models;
  5. communicating effectively with youth and personnel; and
  6. facilitating the transfer of learning and developing insight through the therapeutic outdoor experience.

 

WT 2.07

Direct service personnel are trained on, or demonstrate competency in:
  1. normal growth and development;
  2. behavioral and emotional problems typical of the service population including risks associated with suicide, eating disorders, cutting, and impulsivity;
  3. alcohol and other drug problems;
  4. behavior dynamics and needs of youth who have experienced abuse or neglect;
  5. how to identify youth at risk of being sexually victimized;
  6. how to manage acting out behavior of a sexual nature; and
  7. the effects of attachment, separation, and loss.

 

WT 2.08

Individuals responsible for on-site program coordination and supervision of personnel are trained on, or demonstrate competency in:
  1. knowledge of adolescent development;
  2. technical competence and safety skills;
  3. problem-solving and leadership skills, sound judgment, and capabilities in interpersonal communication and group facilitation; and
  4. skills in the use of outdoor experiences for therapeutic purposes.

 
Fundamental Practice

WT 2.09

Personnel complete:
  1. 40 hours of orientation and experiential or classroom training and demonstrate competency in all skill sets before assuming primary responsibility for a group;
  2. 40 hours a year of ongoing clinical and therapeutic outdoor training; and
  3. additional training to address specific types of activities and to maintain certification in specific areas, as appropriate to individual responsibilities.

Interpretation

In the absence of state certification requirements, the organization should define criteria for certifying personnel and evaluating level of competence.

 
Fundamental Practice

WT 2.10

Before assignment as a group leader or assistant, the organization provides and documents in the personnel record:
  1. supervised field experiences;
  2. competency testing; and
  3. certification in the area of assigned responsibility, when certification is available.

 
Fundamental Practice

WT 2.11

Personnel must receive certification in first aid or first responder and CPR before assuming primary responsibility for a group.

 

WT 2.12

Depending on the needs of youth, the organization provides or arranges for the services of qualified professionals in dentistry, medicine, education, nursing, speech, dietetics, and religion.

Interpretation

Thresholds for such services should be spelled out clearly in the program description, during informed consent, or in the individualized service plan. Consulting services from qualified professionals and specialists can be available on an informal basis or through linkages with community organizations. When the organization uses a consultant, it must ensure that consulting services are coordinated with services provide by the organization. Organizations in remote locations, where certain professional resources are unavailable, can demonstrate implementation of the standard if they make alternative arrangements such as transporting youth. If an extremely large number of youth have a need, the organization must recruit an employee to meet that need.

 

WT 2.13

Employee workloads support the achievement of client outcomes and are regularly reviewed.
Examples: Factors that may be considered when determining employee workloads include, but are not limited to:
  1. the qualifications, competencies, and experience of the worker, including the level of supervision needed;
  2. the work and time required to accomplish assigned tasks and job responsibilities; and
  3. service volume, accounting for assessed level of needs of youth.