This is the second of a series of articles focusing on ethics in child and youth care worker training and development. The first article provided an introduction to the National Staff Development and Training Association's Code of Ethics for Training and Development Professionals. The full document can be retrieved from the NSDTA website (http://nsdta.aphsa.org). The first two Core Values and Principles were introduced in the first article (1) Beneficence and Non-Maleficence and (2) Learning, Development, Self-Awareness, and Self-Actualization. The remaining four Core Values and Principles will be discussed in this article. These values and principles emphasize the importance of providing leadership through training and development activities, promoting cultural competence and self determination, and maintaining a high level of integrity regarding professional responsibilities. The Core Values and Principles will be listed followed by an example of compliance and non-compliance to each value and principle. The examples are intended to promote understanding of the values, principles, and standards. However, they are not intended to be absolute. Although the examples in this article do not specifically mention child and youth care worker trainers, the implications are very relevant to child and youth care worker training and development activities.
Inherent within the work of the both child and youth care practitioners and those who promote their training and development are two central concepts: care and control. Developing caring relationships and valuing people are balanced with providing the right amount of control (structure/influence/authority) to promote change and development. So that care and concern for people take priority over control and other personal interests, training and development practitioners must be aware of the profession's core values and guiding ethical principles.
Human Service Leadership
Training and development professionals recognize the importance of providing leadership in human services through training and development activities. Training and development professionals also recognize their potential influence and take responsibility for their activities in promoting service to others.
Compliance Example – A training and development researcher who explored factors affecting the transfer of learning of employment counselors presented her results at a conference attended by state and federal policy-makers. One week after her presentation, she mailed the participants a “user friendly” pamphlet that clearly indicated potential policy changes based on her research that could improve transfer of learning of employment counselors resulting in better services to the unemployed. The researcher enclosed her business card along with an offer of additional assistance if requested.
Noncompliance Example – Several workshop participants in elder care training complained to the trainer and other participants that the “administration” was not concerned about the care of the elderly. Even though a few of the other workshop participants indicated that some of the complaints were not entirely accurate, the trainer permitted the participants to “vent” during the training for 20 minutes. The trainer finally redirected the discussion back to the scheduled training by sympathizing with the “complainers” stating “it’s too bad that there is nothing I can do, I just do the training. We better get to the next section so that we will have time for a break.”
Individual Uniqueness, Cultural Diversity
Training and development professionals value diversity in our society and promote worker competence in understanding the uniqueness of individuals within their environments.
Compliance Example – A curriculum designer integrated examples of diversity into every section of a newly created curriculum on discipline and behavior management. The designer also included suggestions for the trainer regarding how to explore and help participants better appreciate diversity among the training group.
Noncompliance Example – Under the constraints of a tight production timeline and small budget, an instructional media specialist produced a computer-displayed presentation that included video and still pictures primarily comprised of her relatively homogeneous family members, friends, and neighbors. The computer-displayed presentation was incorporated into a standardized training package and presented to all juvenile justice workers in the state.
Training and development professionals respect the right of the learner to determine what, when, and how it is best for that individual to learn. A variety of instructional strategies should be considered to encourage participation from learners with different learning styles. Even “mandatory” training activities (e.g., training content required by law or administrative rule) should provide the learner with options of how to participate. In addition, training and development professionals should advocate through their practice the importance of self-determination for those who receive and/or are in need of human services.
Compliance Example – A trainer of victim’s assistance training on domestic violence stated before the training and several times during the training that the subject matter can be emotionally intense at times. She added that participants should feel free to not participate if the subject matter becomes overly intense for them individually. Participants may choose to close their eyes or leave the room and get a drink of water.
Non-compliance example – Since separation and loss are crucial knowledge areas in child welfare, a child protective services trainer insisted that everyone participate in a guided visualization dealing with loss. The trainer was unaware that one participant had just returned to work after attending the funeral of a close relative.
Training and development professionals promote a climate of trust and mutual respect. Values and standards from the NSDTA Code are integrated into training and development activities. Working relationships are clarified with others regarding the areas of competence of the training and development professional, program goals, methods, content/curricula, confidentiality, fees, and assessment/evaluation strategies. Agreed-upon commitments are adhered to by the training and development professional.
Compliance Example – In order to promote appropriate risk-taking for learning, the trainer informed participants that she will not ordinarily discuss with the participants' supervisors the individual participant discussions during the training. However, the trainer added that under certain circumstances, she may be ethically obligated to inform the supervisor (e.g., if she has concerns that clients will be harmed). She states that in the few situations when this has happened in the past, she informed the participant of her intent to talk with the supervisor. The day after training one of the participant’s supervisors called the trainer saying that she heard there were some complaints during the training and demanded to know what her worker “complained” about The trainer declined to comment on any of the participant’s discussions and referred the supervisor to the agency’s policy on training and communication with supervisors and other supportive personnel.
Noncompliance Example – Thinking that she may receive a higher evaluation rating from the training participants, a trainer ends training 45 minutes earlier than scheduled even though she had not completed training to all of the learning objectives.
While thinking about the above values, principles and examples, the reader may be experiencing some ambivalence and internal conflict regarding some of the implications of these values and principles. For example, how does a training and development professional protect the rights of the children for competent care while also promoting the self determination of the learner by permitting the learner to determine what, when, and how it is best for that individual to learn? If a worker refuses to demonstrate a crucial crisis management skill in training, what ethical obligation does the trainer have to the client or the supervisor of the learner to ensure learner competence? Some ethical situations are more complex than simply choosing the alternative that adheres to an ethical principle. Often a child and youth care training and development professional will have to choose among alternatives that involve more than one ethical principle. These ethical dilemmas have been described as situations where a person encounters (1) a choice between two rationally defensible courses of action, (2) actions supported by one or more ethical principles or responsibilities, and (3) actions having potential significant consequences. They normally involve choices among conflicting values or responsibilities (Harding, 1985; Mallucio, Pine, & Tracy, 2002). Further discussion regarding ethical dilemmas and how to approach them will be discussed in a subsequent article.
Harding, C.G. (1985). Moral Dilemmas. Chicago: Precedent Publishing.
Malucio, A.N., Pine, B.A., & Tracy, E.M. (2002). Social Work Practice with Families and Children. N.Y.: Columbia University Press.
National Staff Development and Training Association (2004). The Code of Ethics for Training and Development Professionals in Human Services: Case Scenarios, and Training Implications. Washington, D.C.: National Staff Development and Training Association of the American Public Human Services Association.