Building Staff Capacity Through Effective Leadership

Hotel Contessa On the Riverwalk
San Antonio, Texas
October 17-18, 2018

Research continues to find that employees are hungry to work in environments that support and challenge them. Despite significant investments in staff recruitment, training and retention efforts, many employees report being disengaged at work, and this is reflected in the high levels of staff turnover that many direct service organizations experience. While employee engagement is a constant struggle, there are solutions.

NACBH conferences are known for gathering key leaders in children’s behavioral health to focus on timely issues – emerging or perennial – that test providers’ ability to deliver high quality services in an increasingly complex system. This year is no different, as we turn our attention to creating environments that inspire and motivate employees, and designing staff development programs that foster the future workforce and leadership.

This must-attend conference will highlight a variety of ways to align your leadership approach to the needs of your staff, building a highly committed and engaged workforce. Tim Nolan of the Human Services Leadership Institute will lead the program and a faculty that taps our membership’s considerable expertise. Tim has worked with over 8,000 management staff in the human services field, is the author of The Essential Handbook for Highly Effective Human Service Managers, and the creator of the Highly Effective Human Service Managers Program. He is excited to share his knowledge with us, and learn from what promises to be another lively and energizing exchange, in true NACBH style.

NACBH is grateful for the generous support of this conference from
CARF International, COA, and the Joint Commission.

Program Overview

Wednesday, October 17

8:00 a.m.
Registration and Breakfast

8:30–9:00 a.m.
Welcome and Introductions

Pat Johnston
Executive Director, NACBH
Washington, DC

David Napier
President, NACBH, and
Chief Executive Officer, Youth Home, Inc.
Little Rock, Arkansas

9:00–10:15 a.m.
Maximizing Staff Commitment Through Compelling Messaging

Tim Nolan
Human Services Leadership Institute
Lake Worth, Florida

Employee commitment is the foundation of retention and performance. This dynamic and engaging session will focus on strategies that human service leaders can capitalize on to inspire and motive employees to remain with your organization.

10:15–10:30 a.m.

10:30–11:45 a.m.
Creating a Positive Culture

Research shows that a positive organizational culture leads to improved client outcomes and rates of employee retention. Tim has worked with thousands of management staff in the human services and will provide dozens of examples of how a positive culture is created and maintained.

11:45–1:30 p.m.
Networking Lunch

Please join us for an informal lunch to connect with colleagues.

1:30–3:00 p.m.

Breakout Session: Leveraging Generational Diversity

Understanding diverse workforce generations is not enough. It is critical to not only embrace the strengths, motivations, and work styles of each generation, but to create opportunities for collaboration. Tim will facilitate this session on embracing the strengths of each individual, which helps the organization to thrive on many levels.

Breakout Session: Revamping Your Approach to Staff Development

Sean Rose, M.Ed.
Executive Director, JRI Connecticut
Thompson, Connecticut

The most innovative organizations are those that find ways to better care for their staff and develop them into the best professionals possible. Sean has created a staff development program to cultivate teachers, clinicians, and high-level managers from bachelor-level agency staff, augmenting tuition support with mentoring for those who move on to masters programs, and introducing staff to the roles and responsibilities of leadership positions through a series of educational forums.

His presentation will outline JRI’s professional development program, as well as concrete strategies for supervision, identifying and preventing vicarious trauma and burn-out, self care planning, and retention incentives.

3:00–3:15 p.m.

3:15–4:45 p.m.
Annual Business Meeting

Reports of the President, Executive Director, and NACBH Committees on the activities of the past year and priorities for the next, including Election of Officers.

4:45–5:00 p.m.

5:00–6:00 p.m.
Networking Reception

Please join us for a beer, wine, sangria, and soft drinks before heading out for dinner on the Riverwalk or the town.

Thursday, October 18

8:00 a.m.

8:45–9:00 a.m.
Welcome Back

9:00–10:30 a.m.
Enhancing Organizational Capacity

Tim Nolan

Highly effective human service organizations possess structures that support staff and allow them to thrive. Tim will present examples of several organizational approaches that are designed to enhance staff commitment and retention.

10:30–10:45 a.m.

10:45–12:15 p.m.
The Trauma-Informed Organization

Patricia D. Wilcox, LCSW
Vice President for Strategic Development
Klingberg Family Centers
New Britain, Connecticut

Charlene Hoobler
Chief Operating Officer
Barry Robinson Center
Norfolk, Virginia

Creating a trauma-informed organization goes well beyond training clinicians in evidence-based practice.

Pat’s presentation will outline the essential transformation processes in governance and leadership, hiring and team development, supervision and quality assurance, and change evaluation.

Charlene will discuss the impact this approach has had on workforce development and staff retention at The Barry Robinson Center.

12:15–1:45 p.m.
Networking Lunch

Please join us for an informal lunch to connect with colleagues

1:45–3:15 p.m.
Breakout Session: Board Development

Richard Wolleat
Vice President/President-Elect, NACBH
President and CEO,
Northwood Children’s Services
Duluth, MN

A provider agency’s board is more than just its governance, it is informed leadership whose potential for advancing the mission of the agency is often under-realized. Dick will lead this highly interactive session, designed for executives reporting directly to governance boards.

The focus will include recruiting, orienting, and engaging board members to maximize their impact for the benefit of the agency and the children and families served.

Breakout Session: Using Emotional Intelligence to Improve Staff Retention

Leaders who consistently demonstrate emotional intelligence tend to have more engaged staff. Tim will discuss how human service leaders use the four components of emotional intelligence to drive employee performance and retention, and increase team cohesion.

3:15–3:30 p.m.

3:30–4:45 p.m.
Creating and Maintaining a Highly Committed Workforce

Tim will lead this interactive session to examine how leaders forge effective relationships with employees to enhance their commitment, along with a review of solutions from his and the conference participants’ toolboxes.

Bonus Seminar: Claritycare

NACBH Emerging Best Practice Conferences are typically two-day programs. This year, we are pleased to offer an additional half-day seminar about an exciting program developed by our local San Antonio member, Clarity Child Guidance Center. Hotel meeting space for this session is limited, so please register early.

Friday, October 19

8:00 a.m.

8:30–11:30 a.m.
Claritycare: Staff Training and Development in a Highly Evolved Trauma-Informed Care Model

Geoff Gentry, Ph.D.,
Senior Vice President of Clinical Services

Carol Carver, RN, MSN,
Senior Vice President and
Chief Operating Officer
Clarity Child Guidance Center
San Antonio, Texas

Geoff and Carol will present a comprehensive introduction to Claritycare, including its underlying principles, implementation and fine-tuning, and the organizational and operational factors that are vital to its effectiveness. They will share training and intervention tools and educational material developed at Clarity and “borrowed” with modifications.

Discussion will include how staff have responded, how Clarity’s hiring practices have changed, and the effect on indicators such as parent satisfaction ratings and the use of emergency interventions.

A brief description of the Claritycare model is below.



Claritycare is a philosophy of care and staff development model created over the past decade at Clarity Child Guidance Center. The approach is designed for use with direct care staff in acute psychiatric settings for children and adolescents. Based on core values and beliefs endorsed by the executive leadership team, it provides a non-confrontational way to address staff members’ natural and often unconscious values that don’t align with Clarity’s trauma-informed model.


These core values are part of our performance evaluation process for all staff.

  • Dignity – We believe each child is inherently worthy. Children come to us with dignity; we don’t bestow it upon them.
  • Respect – Our behavior must demonstrate respect for the dignity of every child at all times under all conditions.
  • Understanding – We believe “kids do well when they can.” We also believe if they are not doing well, it is our job to understand why and help them.


  • Ross Greene’s principle that “Children do well when they can.”
  • The idea that degree of fit between a child’s abilities and the demands of the environment is “everything.”
  • Values and beliefs shape the way staff think about and engage others, including the children we care for. We strike a distinction between “old school” values and beliefs that inform traditional, coercive approaches and Claritycare values and beliefsthat emphasize cognitive flexibility, emotional attunement, and collaboration.
  • Providing psychological safety for our patients is as important as providing for their physical safety.
  • Understanding the triggers of maladaptive behaviors is useful for helping children with emotional and behavioral problems; focusing on a child’s “noncompliance” with program rules or expectations is not helpful. We believe the main external triggers for patients’ behavioral escalation (meltdowns) are staff behavior and program rules.

Staff Development Model

Our staff development model focuses on improving cognitive flexibility and emotional attunement while emphasizing the value of self-awareness and continual learning. For example, we know that people who are new to direct care tend to overuse advice-giving as an intervention although we believe that tactic is usually not helpful, at best. Self-awareness and continual learning can help staff expand their intervention toolboxes beyond giving advice. We have also discovered the value (or necessity) of role-playing for our staff to experientially learn how to express genuine empathy and reassurance versus “being nice but still being the boss” with children in their care. We have come to believe it is a mistake to assume all direct care staff are able to express empathy and reassurance effectively.

Staff Training in Claritycare

Training-related concepts we have developed and others we have “borrowed” that will be addressed in the presentation:

  • Training approach. We have changed our training format over time from didactic to a more organic “diffusion of innovation” approach. We utilize ongoing face-to-face training with the core training team and direct care staff in a group setting. The approach currently emphasizes structured role-play based on Ross Greene’s Plan B Cheatsheet.
  • Expanding the circle of influence in the milieu. Our core training team identifies “rising stars” to support with extra training and appoints the most effective staff as front-line “staff developers.”
  • Setting the tone. We have carefully-followed guidelines for Community Meetings that are designed to set the tone we want our patients to experience in the treatment setting. Setting the tone in the Community Meeting is intended to clarify for our patients the primary role of all staff members as being to help patients versus their purpose being to “monitor and manage behavior.” The Community Meeting is also designed to facilitate each patient’s role as an equally valued member of the treatment community.

About Clarity Child Guidance Center

Clarity Child Guidance Center exists to transform the lives of children and families. Our legacy dates back to 1886 when thirteen caring and industrious women founded an orphanage for children who had been abandoned or neglected by society. Over time, the agency has evolved to become Clarity Child Guidance Center (Clarity CGC), the only nonprofit treatment center in San Antonio and South Texas offering a continuum of care that specializes in children ages 3-17 who suffer from serious mental health problems. Our inpatient and outpatient programs include a range of services, from crisis stabilization, to psychiatric evaluations, to psychological assessment, to ongoing therapy.

We have the region’s largest staff of children’s mental health professionals at our two, family-friendly campuses. Clarity CGC also provides training to the next generation of caregivers. We partner with UT Health San Antonio as a teaching hospital for its psychiatry residents and Child and Adolescent Fellows, and psychology pre-doctoral interns. Our partnership with the Baylor College of Medicine Pediatric program teaches future pediatricians to work with patients who might be experiencing mental illness. Clarity CGC is Joint Commission accredited and a United Way partner agency.