Webinar presenter Arlyn Harris answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Thinking for a Change Case Study. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: With the online T4C program, how do you get participation? Is this via webcam? If you could just kind of elaborate cause we got a number of questions just solely around the online program specifically. So if you could talk a little bit more about that as a whole but then also address questions around the webcam aspect.
Arlyn Harris: They keep the classes a little bit smaller so 12 is actually the ideal number and that’s even what NIC would recommend for the Thinking for a Change class because we have the natural fallout that we view. We tend to start our classes a little bit higher and expect that attrition and hope to end up with a smaller group. With the online process, they start a little bit smaller and part of that is because yes it is video and so you have your facilitators on the screen but you have your entire class of pictures on the screen so that was one reason for a smaller number so that they can all fit on the screen. They still are very interactive. We still call on people to read the charts and to even role play and instead of role-playing face to face, ones they’re in they’re living room, ones in their kitchen they can still roleplay with each other. They partner up and everything else is the same. I believe they have their own homework and they show their homework on the screen as well so we can verify that they are actually filling out the homework form and then a couple of lessons that require them to turn out their thinking reports. They do the same thing. They keep it on doing in a piece of paper and upload the piece of paper or put them on their video cameras so the facilitators can actually see that and then also prior to the class starting they get a mailed package that has all their handouts, their skill cards and anything else that they might need to do their class. When they came to us to do this, my first thought to it is who the heck has a smartphone and a tablet? They were willing to provide these items if needed. I don’t think anybody has actually needed one. That’s good. There are some benefits. One of my facilitators actually came back and she said one of the things she didn’t expect at all is there is no cross-talk, there is nobody sitting there playing around with their telephones or you know hiding their phones under the table. She’s like it’s actually better in a lot of ways because of that. I’ve heard offenders, I hate calling offenders probationers, participants actually we’ve been working, they pull over on the side of the road and participate in the group from sitting on their car and their phone. That has been really cool. A lot of things really coming out of this and the same provider I said they do all of their treatment modalities online. They are doing MRT, domestic violence and substance abuse, and IOP as well. It’s where we’re going. It’s really cool but it’s where we are going. I know that Coconino County here in Arizona, our Northern Arizona area, they also have a Smart Supervision Grant and they were looking at using web format to see them probation recordings. They are very very rural including the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Kind of interesting.
Audience Question: Have you found any difference in terms of success rates or anything like that with the online class?
Arlyn Harris: Not yet. I was looking prior to this because I was hoping to record back the graduate rate with higher – but I will say it’s pretty much on par about half. Again I think that goes into our attendance policy, you know we do lose people to a lot of times is they get a job that conflicts with the hours or if they move is the online activity isn’t really usually effective. Because also it is a Medicaid provider, we’ve seen a few people lose their Medicaid because maybe they have a job and they just failed to renew it. That’s another reason that we lose people to the Medicaid funded classes. That really looked much into why we’re losing them. I want to say that it’s about the same as the community groups.
Audience Question: What fidelity issues have you faced in your online-only class?
Arlyn Harris: I don’t know that we have, really. They’re being co-facilitators in my staff, one nice thing is that I am a trained trainer, facilitator trainer. I mentioned that I have several other now who have all been trained. We train all of our community providers and the jail staff, pretty much in the Maricopa County, they are trained by us. They all received the same training. Being that, we co-facilitated with them. We have the same expectations and that’s part of that marketing packet also. We expect this of you. We expect that this is a manual based program. You are reading the manual. You’ve run the role plays like they are meant to be run like they are scripted. We have that ability to sit in and oversee and observe the classes online or non-online. I haven’t had anybody, any of my facilitators come back with fidelity issues. I think the partnership itself and this goes to any other provider, even co-facilitators to probation staff, the biggest issue is they are making decisions without including both facilitators may be deciding to allow somebody to stay in class beyond 3 absence, stuff like that but nothing with fidelity on the curriculum.
Audience Question: How do you evaluate the outcome of the program? What method did you use to measure success?
Arlyn Harris: I assume that you are referring to the grant. That again, we have the research evaluation team. There’s a whole grant report on that. I am not a researcher but there are all kinds of aggregate data called by every piece of information you can possibly imagine that they looked at. I am not going to pretend that I can answer that question. Our researchers do all that.
Audience Question: Arlyn, you talked about how Arizona State University as your research partner. What if we don’t have an existing academic organization as a partner, how should we go about finding a research partner to help us with our grant reporting and it sounds like you support the idea of having an outside party being involved? Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Arlyn Harris: We were required. It was one of the requirements of the grant and part of the grant budget went to the research team. If you are operating under a grant, that’s what you got to look at. Any of the Smart grants or whatever they are called now the Innovation grants, they are all going to require a research team. That is a kind of a no-brainer in that way. If you don’t have the funding for that, I’m not sure. Do you actually need to do the kind of research that we did or is it more of a, you know, just try it, do it, like our phone project. It was pretty easy to see that we tried something, we did it. We looked at, we tracked the people did they show up after I call them, did they not show up? We were able to look at that data pretty simply enough and then roll that out into little bit bigger and a little bit bigger. I didn’t need a research partner for stuff like that. I think it depends on what you are looking to actually collect data on. Does it make sense?
Audience Question: I guess I would go back and maybe in touch on did you already have an existing relationship at Arizona State University or did you just pick up the phone and call Arizona State University and say hey we’re working on this grant? How did you go about finding them?
Arlyn Harris: That happened at the administration level. I do know that we have used ASU before. There was a relationship there before. Again with the county and procurement issues too, I don’t know if you can just go to one person and hey we got this opportunity or we need to go to the procurement process. I don’t know if the grant is different
Audience Question: Are you billing Medicaid for T4C? Curious because our behavioral health agency indicated that they can’t bill due to this being an educational program and not considered treatment.
Arlyn Harris: The community provider is billing. We are not in Medicaid. Adult probation is not a Medicaid funded agency obviously. That’s why we partner with community providers and yes they are billing Medicaid. It’s successful. They are billing it under group therapy, group treatment, something group. I can look exactly into what the billing code is. It won’t be the same billing code but I think the category that it’s under. It covers that intake but they have separate requirements. Like I said if they require the intake. Intake assuming has to be 30 days prior to the class starting and has to be within 7 days of the calling to get the appointment. They are covering the intake appointment plus all of the group sessions. Yes, it has been successful in that way.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Thinking for a Change Case Study.