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DHS News August 2012

Improving Information and Assistance Through AIRS Certification

As a part of IMPACT, the DHS/AAA strategic plan, the Aging Entry and Independent Bureaus are working together to enhance the quality of Information and Assistance (I&A) provided by the AAA and its provider agencies through pursuit of CIRS-A Certification for I&A Specialists in Aging. 

This professional credentialing program is based on established industry standards and administered by the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems, or AIRS, an international association that provides leadership and support to the Information and Referral/Assistance industry. The CIRS-A certificate is understood nationally as a demonstration of a high level of knowledge and capacity in the field of I&A. Certification is obtained through successful completion of a comprehensive exam covering critical skills needed to provide quality I&A that are based on recommended study materials and practical experience.

In order to assist staff in achieving and maintaining certification, the Entry and Independent Bureaus piloted a CIRS-A training and testing program with the DHS/AAA Learning Center in late spring 2012. A mix of SeniorLine and Partner Agency staff participated in two training classes led by trainer Francesca Kranzberg, from Jewish Information & Referral Service of Greater Washington, who reviewed relevant material to assist them to prepare for the test.

Five SeniorLine staff and six partner agencies completed the spring 2012 pilot training and test cycle for AIRS CIRS-A certification. They attended trainings April 30 and June 5 and took the CIRS-A test on June 19. All five AAA staff who took the test attained certification. The newly certified AIRS CIRS-A staff are Aging Care Mangers Tom Sobieralski, Eric Rymer, Deborah Warnelis, Debra Blyth and Constancia Secich from the AAA SeniorLine. They join three members of the LINK staff who are also certified, Deanna Kmonk, Mara Schwabenbauer, and Andrea Bustos. Additional training and testing cycles are being developed for early fall 2012 and late winter 2013. The experience of the pioneers in the first group will help provide enhanced support and more targeted preparation training for these next cycles. The goal is to obtain certification for all Information and Assistance staff at the SeniorLine and at all focal points throughout the provider network by June 2013 in order to provide consistent high-quality Information and assistance services to those we serve.

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