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Arkansas Department of Health Expands its Offering of Early Intervention Technical Assistance with TORSH’s Innovative Platform

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Background

First Connections is a Little Rock-based agency within the Arkansas Department of Human Services Division (DHS) of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) that specializes in early intervention services for children from birth to three years old. First Connections provides technical assistance to early intervention professionals, supporting the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services’ (DDS) certification standards.

First Connections is staffed by just two people and serves a diverse group of early intervention professionals spread across the state. With such a small team and such a big mission, First Connections needed a better way to provide technical assistance than trying to coordinate in-person trainings. Additionally, early interventionists working toward certification needed more flexibility in when and how they accessed training while they managed full caseloads.

These challenges led First Connections to search for a comprehensive online platform to manage and deliver technical assistance. In particular, First Connections wanted a solution that would enable early intervention professionals to navigate certification requirements at their own pace. They also wanted an intuitive, simple-to-navigate platform to accommodate different technological abilities. The goal: Ensure that all professionals, regardless of their location or schedule, have equitable access to essential resources and support opportunities.

The Solution 

First Connections was excited to discover TORSH Talent, a HIPAA-secure online platform that streamlines technical assistance and certification processes for staff in early intervention programs. With TORSH’s extensive expertise in supporting early intervention and care programs, First Connections found an ally to help them meet their goals and overcome obstacles.

Using TORSH Talent’s advanced suite of tools, First Connections has successfully launched a robust, accessible online environment for practitioners to tap into technical assistance services that support their practices. First Connections immediately began using TORSH Talent to:

  • Offer on-demand, asynchronous courses
  • Track certification eligibility
  • Provide Learning Paths tailored to individual practitioner’s opportunities for skill growth

With access to comprehensive reporting on practitioner engagement with content, TORSH Talent enables professionals to access technical assistance on their schedules and to find supportive content specific to their needs. First Connections staff also have increased access to resources and ongoing support mechanisms, significantly improving team engagement and satisfaction levels.

“The TORSH system provides an online platform to coordinate a variety of technical assistance activities and offer content and ongoing certification training courses to meet the needs of home visitors around their schedules.”

Tracy Turner
The Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Developmental Disabilities Services

Initial Successes

With the comprehensive technical assistance and certification platform now fully operational within TORSH Talent, professionals have been successfully engaging in coursework that traditionally had limited offerings and are obtaining certification credentials in a timely manner with minimal support.

The collaboration between First Connections and TORSH has resulted in an increase in positive engagement, improved data collection and collaboration, and enhanced communication among stakeholders through the use of reporting tools.

As the collaboration with TORSH progresses, First Connections anticipates a notable improvement in the effectiveness of their technical assistance offerings. Ultimately, bettering this support will also strengthen the practices that early intervention professionals leverage to serve families and their children across the state.

What’s Next

The next step for Arkansas’s DHS is to use TORSH Talent’s integrated, evidence-based coaching features to provide personalized support to small cohorts of professionals, families, and their children. DHS anticipates that this model will lead to additional growth for practitioners and transformational practice improvements across the state.

Resources are continually being added to the TORSH Talent Resource Library to provide even more robust on-demand support to early interventionists. And DHS plans to leverage the TORSH Talent’s data collection capabilities to guide data-informed decision making, enhanced fidelity of technical assistance implementation, and ongoing quality improvement.

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