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Staff selection is an implementation driver although it is not discussed often and rarely evaluated in human service programs. Nevertheless, selection is a key ingredient of implementation at every level:

  • selection of practitioners,
  • selection of organization staff (trainers, coaches, evaluators, administrators), and
  • selection of staff for Implementation Teams.

Selection of staff is important to having effective practitioners, excellent trainers, effective coaches, skilled evaluators, facilitative administrators, or effective purveyors. Not everyone is suited to each role. People who are outgoing and decisive may make good practitioners or Implementation Team members. People who are methodical and comfortable making judgments based on specified criteria may make better evaluators. People who are more comfortable with public speaking and “performing” might make better trainers. With respect to given evidence-based practices or programs, the extent of knowledge and direct experience in the specific program or practice might be more critical for some positions than others.

Beyond academic qualifications or experience factors, certain practitioner characteristics are difficult to teach in training sessions so must be part of the selection criteria (e.g., knowledge of the field, common sense, social justice, ethics, willingness to learn, willingness to intervene, good judgment). Some programs are purposefully designed to minimize the need for careful selection. For example, the SMART program for tutoring reading was designed to accept any adult volunteer who could read and was willing to spend 2 days a week tutoring a child (Baker, Gersten, & Keating, 2000). Others have specific requirements for practitioner qualifications (e.g., Chamberlain, 2003; Phillips, Burns, & Edgar, 2001; Schoenwald, Brown, & Henggeler, 2000) and competencies (e.g., Blase et al., 1984; Maloney, Phillips, Fixsen & Wolf, 1975; Reiter-Lavery, 2004).

Staff selection also represents the intersection with a variety of larger system variables. General workforce development issues, the overall economy, organizational financing, the demands of the evidence-based program in terms of time and skill, and so on impact the availability of staff for human service programs.

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