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81 OCTOBER 2005
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The training and development professional’s ethical responsibilities to colleagues, the profession and society

Dale Curry

This is the fifth of a series of articles focusing on ethics in Child and Youth Care worker training and development. The previous articles provided an introduction to the National Staff Development and Training Association's Code of Ethics for Training and Development Professionals, discussion regarding core values and principles, and ethical responsibilities as professionals to clients. The full document can be retrieved from the NSDTA website (

This article will explore standards from the NSDTA Code emphasizing ethical responsibilities to colleagues, the profession and society. Each standard will be followed by an example of compliance and non-compliance. The illustrations are intended to promote understanding of the 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.

Responsibilities to Colleagues and the Profession
Training and development professionals have the responsibility to share information with colleagues to promote best practice as well as add to the knowledge base of training and development in human services.

Compliance Example – A member of the National Staff Development and Training Association submits an article that describes a “tried and true" learning activity that the member has successfully used to the NSDTA Journal Training and Development in Human Services.

Noncompliance Example – When asked to let another trainer sit in her workshop on “Leadership Skills in Human Services," a skilled trainer refuses. The trainer states that she makes her living as a private training consultant and does not want the novice trainer to “steal" her ideas and take away some of her business.

Training and development contributions of others are appropriately recognized in training and development activities such as training, scholarly writing, and conference presentations.

Compliance Example – When adapting a learning exercise dealing with the dynamics of puberty, a Child and Youth Care training curriculum designer includes a note of recognition regarding the source from which the activity was adapted.

Noncompliance Example Wanting to improve her training evaluation scores, a mental health trainer uses a creative training activity developed by another colleague. However, concerned about her “credibility" with the group, the trainer does not give recognition to the creator of the learning activity. When one training participant verbally compliments the trainer on her creativity, the trainer acts as if she developed the activity.

Training and development professionals should obey copyright laws. Even when materials do not contain a copyright symbol, professionals should acknowledge in writing the original source of the materials.

Compliance Example A trainer of new trainers in a statewide child welfare training program requests permission (in writing) from the appropriate source to include materials that have a copyright in orientation handout materials to new trainers.

Noncompliance Example – An instructional media specialist makes copies of a popular video tape and gives them to nearby county agencies for use in the training of their staff.

Training and development professionals should articulate and advocate for the appropriate use of training and development activities.

Compliance Example – A training coordinator at a juvenile detention center recognizes that several teens within the current population are at risk for attempting suicide. In addition, to certain programmatic recommendations, the training coordinator requests additional money from the detention center program director to provide training on teen suicide prevention and crisis intervention.

Noncompliance Example – Concerned that staff working the night shift in a nursing care facility for residents with Alzheimer’s disease have not received sufficient hours of state mandated training, the training coordinator schedules a full day of training (8 hours) immediately following the end of the night shift. The training coordinator does not request the program manager to schedule staff replacements for the training participants for the shift prior to training.

Responsibilities to Society
Training and development professionals should utilize resources efficiently to effectively meet training and development needs.

Compliance Example – When reviewing existing core curricula for a training program for child support enforcement workers, a curriculum designer considers the use of distance technology for certain parts of the curriculum that does not require in-person group contact to achieve learning and application objectives.

Noncompliance Example – An experienced and well-respected human services trainer who has not learned how to use email, insists that all correspondence between her and other training program members and participants occur through the mail. The trainer is involved in various facets of the program including curriculum development committee work, transfer of learning initiatives, and direct training. This results in increased costs and time as well as the development of transfer of learning activities that do not consider email as a strategy. The trainer does not plan to upgrade her computer email skills anytime soon.

Training and development professionals should provide leadership in their individual areas of expertise. By remaining current on laws, policies, and best practices in human services and training and development, training and development professionals can advocate in human service agencies and in society for changes necessary to improve the well-being of society’s children, adults, and families.

Compliance Example – A trainer, who has developed a high level of expertise in the use of parent education programs for those who have abused their children, joins a curriculum committee of a state child welfare training program initiative to develop training curriculum for child welfare workers in parent education.

Noncompliance Example – A program manager of a state child welfare training program is unaware of how to use outcome indicator data from the federal Child and Family Services Review for training needs assessment.

Above is the last standard included in the NSDTA Code of Ethics for Training and Development Professionals in Human Services. The examples have emphasized a variety of human service training and development roles and attempted to clarify ethical responsibilities that are inherent within the complex work that we do.

As training and development professionals, we may be processing the information from this series of ethics articles on different levels. On one level, we may recognize the importance of a code of ethics specific to human services training and development and think of ways to apply the Code to our own practice. For example, we may be thinking of ways to share our own learning with other training and development professionals such as writing a description of a “tried and true" learning activity for the training category in CYC-Online or the Learning Activities section of Training and Development in Human Services (the journal of the National Staff Development and Training Association).

However, we may also be processing the information as trainers and recognize the need for training Child and Youth Care workers to base their practice on the Standards for Practice of North American Child and Youth Care Professionals. Therefore, we may be posing questions to ourselves such as:

  1. Can we train ethics or is it just a matter of hiring ethical practitioners?

  2. How are other Child and Youth Care worker training and development professionals training ethics?

  3. What are successful approaches to ethics training?

  4. What are the limitations of ethics training?

  5. What kind of organizational supports are necessary to promote ethical practice?

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