There’s no roadmap to growing up. Luckily, there is the Teaching-Family Model. JYS uses this methodology to work with youth.
“It’s really great because we’re not trying to change hearts and minds, we’re trying to teach skills,” said Derik Swanson, who recently completed his TFM certification.
The process to become certified took Swanson about two years. Traditionally, it takes about one year but restrictions and other complications due to the pandemic made the process take longer. During the certification process, Swanson went through weekly or biweekly evaluations with supervisors. Every few months, he went through more in-depth evaluations with accreditors.
“They watch how your day goes and give you an in-depth analysis on strengths and weaknesses,” Swanson said. “You can then go back and figure out what you need to do to improve.”
Swanson didn’t have any prior knowledge of TFM when he started with JYS. But he said he caught on pretty quickly, especially through trial and error.
“The model really works,” Swanson said. “You know when you miss a step or you don’t follow through correctly because when you engage with the youth, something is off.”
Swanson says its rewarding to see TFM work. He encourages anyone working on their certification to trust the process and learn from their mistakes.
“Don’t be afraid to make mistakes,” Swanson said. “Be assertive, make a call and even if you feel like you mess up, with the model you can always go back and fix the mistakes. The important thing is to try.”
Swanson is currently moving into a supervisor role in one of the residential programs. He also hopes to eventually help train other staff members in the TFM.