I&R/A Training

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CRS-A/D Training 

The Support Center offers training for the Inform USA (formerly AIRS) Certification for Community Resource Specialists in Aging/Disabilities credential. Inform USA Certification is a professional credentialing program for individuals working within the I&R sector of human services. Certification is a measurement of documented knowledge in the field of I&R and I&R/A reflecting specific competencies and related performance criteria, which describe the knowledge, skills, attitudes and work-related behaviors needed by I&R practitioners to successfully execute their responsibilities.

The Support Center encourages professionals within the aging and disability networks to become professionally certified by taking the Inform USA Certification for Community Resource Specialists in Aging/Disabilities (CRS-A/D) exam. Prior to January 2019, this credential was known as the Certification for Information and Referral Specialists in Aging/Disabilities (CIRS-A/D). The CRS-A/D credential is designed for practitioners who work directly with consumers and caregivers within the aging and/or disabilities area and perform the same basic range of skills and tasks as a comprehensive I&R Specialist but who also have a special depth of knowledge related to their core client group. The CRS-A/D is the result of a collaboration between Inform USA, ADvancing States, and USAging, recognizing the evolution of I&R/A services within aging and disability programs. To learn more about CRS-A/D certification, see our fact sheet. For more information on Inform USA certification, click here

Support Center staff offer CRS-A/D training at national conferences (including the National Home and Community Based Services Conference), by webinar annually, online, and are available to discuss other training options. 

For more information on training options please contact Nanette Relave

CRS-A/D Train-the-Trainer Initiative 

The Support Center offers a CRS-A/D Train-the-Trainer Initiative to help reach the greatest number of I&R/A specialists for the lowest cost by training more I&R/A professionals, such as managers, supervisors, and training coordinators, to administer the Certification for Community Resource Specialists in Aging/Disabilities exam preparation training. The train-the-trainer initiative supports I&R/A professionals to provide CRS-A/D training themselves by providing a complete set of trainer materials (including curriculum, exercises, and supplemental materials), reviewing these materials with professionals, and being available for technical assistance on an as-needed basis. This initiative builds the capacity of agencies to provide certification training to their staff and community partners. The Support Center also maintains a list of individuals who have participated in the train-the-trainer initiative. The Train-the-Trainer initiative is provided at select national conferences and is available by conference call or webinar upon request. For more information, please contact Support Center director, Nanette Relave. 

Online Basic Training for Aging and Disability I&R/A Professionals

ADvancing States offers free, online training courses intended for I&R/A professionals. These courses are available on our ADvancingStatesiQ.org online learning website. 

The courses aim to enhance the services provided by Information and Referral/Assistance (I&R/A) professionals by advancing their knowledge, skills, and work-related competencies. The courses also are intended to help prepare I&R/A professionals for the Certification for Community Resource Specialists in Aging/Disabilities (CRS-A/D) exam. Courses currently available on ADvancingStatesiQ for I&R/A professionals include the following: 

  1. Affordable Housing for Older Adults and People with Disabilities. Affordable housing is a basic human need that many older adults and people with disabilities struggle to find and keep. This curriculum is designed to give an overview of the types of affordable housing that are available to older adults and people with disabilities.
  2. Older Americans Act 101: The Foundation of the Aging Services Network. This training course provides participants with an overview of key issues relevant to the Older Americans Act (OAA), a seminal piece of legislation that underpins the Aging Services Network and authorizes critical programs that support older adults. This course discusses the historical development, functions, and governance of the Act, its service programs, populations served, and funding.
  3. Introduction to the Independent Living Movement. This course provides participants with a historical perspective and a deeper understanding of the Independent Living Movement. Participants will learn about the role and services provided by Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs), and gain practical skills that will help them strengthen and promote independence and community living for people with disabilities.
  4. Developing Cultural Competence to Serve a Diverse Aging Population. This course provides participants with an overview of America’s diverse aging population, and offers participants the opportunity to learn and apply culturally competent skills to successfully serve diverse populations.
  5. Essential Components of the Aging Informational and Referral Process. This course provides participants with a comprehensive, step-by-step, analysis of the I&R/A process, and offers participants the opportunity to learn and apply communication techniques that support and encourage older adults, individuals with disabilities, and their caregivers in accessing and obtaining health and social support services.
  6. Disability for I&R Specialists. This course offers participants an overview of key issues relevant to providing information and referral/assistance (I&R/A) to individuals with disabilities. The course covers disability awareness; effective communication; services, programs, and resources; and disability rights and empowerment.
  7. Adult Protective Services. This course highlights the core pillars of the APS program. Participants will gain an understanding of APS, the history of these services, and the standard APS practice model. Participants will also learn about training, technical assistance, and other resources for APS programs. Through the course, participants will gain insight into the importance of public awareness of adult maltreatment and the value of person-centeredness in supporting individuals at-risk of and experiencing abuse.
  8. An Introduction to Elder Abuse. This course provides participants with an overview of the issue of elder abuse. The course materials define, distinguish, and explain the significance and impact of elder abuse, as well as offer strategies to respond to possible scenarios. The course is designed for individuals in the fields of aging and disabilities who may encounter elder abuse or vulnerable adult abuse situations. 
  9. The Role of MIPPA: Helping Older Adults and Individuals with Disabilities Afford Medicare. This module provides participants with information about MIPPA, the Medicare program, and the Medicare low-income subsidies. The module also provides key referral resources for additional program information and enrollment assistance. 
  10. Benefits Outreach and Enrollment for Older Adults and Persons with Disabilities: The Role of State and Local Organizations. This course provides participants with information on core benefit programs and challenges to accessing benefits. This course identifies sources of information trusted by older adults and persons with disabilities and offers effective outreach strategies using those information channels. State and local practices for ensuring individuals are connected to potential benefits in regular times and during disaster situations are highlighted.
  11. Medicaid 101: What You Need to Know. This training module provides participants with an overview of key issues relevant to the joint state-federal Medicaid program. This module aims to empower the viewer to gain as nuanced an understanding as possible of the complex Medicaid program, given time and informational constraints. Medicaid 101 is aimed toward anyone seeking a better understanding of Medicaid. 
  12. Medicaid Managed Care 101. This training module provides an overview of Medicaid managed care and outlines important differences between the Medicaid fee-for-service and Medicaid managed care delivery systems.  The course also explains types of managed care plans, how states can implement managed care programs, and key requirements that must be followed. Medicaid Managed Care 101 is intended for participants that have completed the Medicaid 101 course.
  13. Strengthening Cultural Competence in I&R/A Work with Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Older Adults. This course provides an overview of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Aging population for Information & Referral/Assistance (I&R/A) staff and providers. The course offers strategies for staff and providers to integrate cultural and linguistic competence into their work with AAPI older adults, strengthening access to the Aging Network’s long-term services and supports system for this diverse group nationwide.
  14. Strengthening Disability and Cultural Competence in Information and Referral/Assistance (I&R/A) Work with People with I/DD and their Families. This course describes ways in which Information & Referral/Assistance (I&R/A) staff and providers can improve services and resources provided to people with intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD) and their families. The course offers strategies that staff and providers may use to integrate cultural and disability competence into their work with people with I/DD and their families, strengthening access to the support system for this diverse group nationwide.
  15. Key Communication Techniques for Aging and Disability Professionals. This course targets all aging and disability professionals, but especially those who work directly with clients, such as Information and Referral/Assistance (I&R/A) Specialists, Options Counselors, Person-Centered Counselors, and Benefits Counselors. This course highlights key communication techniques; avoiding communication blocks; tips for effective communication with older adults; communication and disability awareness; disability awareness and the importance of language; and key takeaways.
  16. Behavioral Health Crisis Management for Older Adults. The webinar training series addresses older adult crisis management, older adults and technology, and older adult mental health. Aging, disabilities, and mental health network professionals are invited to watch the recordings of this webinar training series on behavioral health crisis management for older adults to strengthen knowledge and skills to meet the current and future needs of older adults with, or at risk of developing, mental illness
  17. Certification for Community Resource Specialists in Aging/Disabilities (CRS - A/D) Training. This training provides an overview of key competencies needed for aging and disability I&R/A professionals, and provides preparation for the Inform USA Certification exam for Community Resource Specialists in Aging/Disabilities (CRS-A/D). The training course covers the fundamentals of information and referral (I&R); details of the Inform USA certification exam; the I&R/A process; key communication techniques; highlights of the Inform USA Standards and Quality Indicators for Professional Information and Referral; an overview of I&R/A and the Aging/Disability Networks; information on aging and disability programs and services; and Inform USA practice exam questions.
  18. Identifying and Understanding the Needs of People Living with Dementia and Their Caregivers. This course advances participants’ understanding of Alzheimer’s and other dementias and what differentiates these conditions from typical aging. The course addresses communication strategies to provide phone support to someone living with early-stage dementia. The course describes the impact that dementia can have on caregivers in order to prepare community resource professionals for empathetic phone interactions. The course strengthens knowledge of resources to assist individuals and caregivers through learning about the role of the Alzheimer’s Association® and the support that it offers to those affected by Alzheimer's and other dementia.

For help with ADvancingStatesiQ, please contact Emily O'Brien.

National Training Events 

Inform USA Conference

For over twenty years, the ADvancing States has convened the National Aging and Disability Information and Referral Symposium in conjunction with the annual Inform USA (formerly AIRS) Conference, to support the professional development of state and local I&R/A, ADRC, CIL and SHIP staff within the aging and disability network. Working with outstanding partners, Inform USA, the U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL), USAging, and the National Council on Independent Living, the symposium offers comprehensive, cutting edge learning opportunities to improve Information and Referral program development, services to consumers, and staff development. 

Presentation and materials from the 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 20172018, and 2019 Symposiums are available on the Support Center website. Visit Inform USA to access more recent conference proceedings. 

ADvancing States and USAging Conferences

The Support Center offers national training events at ADvancing States’ annual Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Conference and at the annual USAging conference. The HCBS conference includes a full-day I&R/A pre-conference intensive that addresses key federal, national, state, and local developments and innovations in aging, disability, and I&R/A services and systems. The HCBS conference also includes a CRS-A/D exam preparation training. The annual USAging conference includes an I&R/A Intensive that addresses important issues in program administration and service delivery. For more information, contact Support Center director, Nanette Relave