September 20, 2012
Lancaster – Officials at Fairfield County Job and Family Services say work done by students in the Ohio University Lancaster Bachelor's of Science in Applied Management program is changing the lives of children throughout the county.
Child and Adult Protective Services Director Rich Bowlen said last spring, as part of a class project, the students developed a leadership training program to meet the needs of the agency.
"We're developing a project-based approach which aligns with an applied management program," said Applied Management Campus Coordinator and Professor Brian Hoyt. "The projects put students in learning situations where they are required to use skills and knowledge from their classroom work."
Bowlen said working with the applied management students was a win-win situation for everyone because social service organizations, like Job and Family Services, do not have the funds to adequately train employees on leadership or how to understand the many pieces of an organizational structure. Bowlen said the training program was needed to enhance a caseworkers ability to make critical decisions while out in the field.
"We're dealing with children who are abused, children that are maltreated, elderly that are so mistreated that they may not survive the night," said Bowlen. "Our caseworkers are out there by themselves and have to make decisions on the spot. They are able to do that better if when they have a more full understanding of the entire organization and develop leadership skills to provide them a foundation."
"In those situations, you have to be able to present yourself in such a way that you are a leader," said Lesley Greenwood, Foster Care and Adoption Caseworker.
Applied management students worked with Job and Family Services officials to develop leadership training that would work well for their organization.Four teams of students competed against each other to develop the best training program.
"They provided us with materials and products that we implemented right away," said Bowlen.
Training manuals, handouts, training modules, tests, questionnaires and itineraries were created to be used to train the organization's 65 employees.
"What we anticipate is that this effort by this class is going to create the opportunity for safe homes for kids.The students are going to have a direct impact on Fairfield County in a big way," said Bowlen. "There's a child and family out there that's going to benefit from that training. It's making a real difference."
"It's a large organization that has a significant role in the community," said Professor Hoyt. "Personally, it's nice to work with non-profit organizations and know that when we help improve some work system, the impact can be community-wide."
This semester, applied management students are working with Job and Family Services again. The students are working on a marketing project to raise awareness about the need for foster homes in the county.But this time, the project is expanding outside of JFS. Two private, for-profit companies are sponsoring what is being called a "cause-marketing" project.