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Certification for juvenile careworkers.

After a one-year development phase, the American Correctional Association began certifying corrections professionals in August 2000. Currently, there are more than 750 applicants (those in the process of qualifying to take an exam) and candidates (those who have qualified and are awaiting an exam date), while the present number of Certified Corrections Professionals (CCP) is 361. ACA's goal is to increase that number to 700 this year. Therefore, a new initiative has begun in the area of juvenile corrections.

The Current Program

Currently, ACA certifies individuals in four categories:

* Certified Corrections Executive (CCE) -- individuals at the highest level in corrections who oversee the development and implementation of policies and procedures, including commissioners, directors, secretaries, superintendents and their deputies/assistants;

* Certified Corrections Manager (CCM) -- staff who manage major units or programs in a correctional setting, who may contribute to the development of policies and procedures, and have authority over supervisory staff, including program chiefs and department heads (e.g., head of security, supervisor of education, unit managers and chief psychologists);

* Certified Corrections Supervisor (CCS) -- individuals who work with both staff and offenders in a correctional setting and are responsible for implementing agency procedures and supervising/evaluating personnel, including caseworkers/counselors, correctional supervisors, food/health services staff, industries personnel, staff psychologists and teachers; and

* Certified Corrections Officer (CCO) -- "line" personnel who work directly with offenders, including correctional officers, corporals and sergeants.

To qualify for certification, an individual must be employed full time in corrections, have one year (two years for CCEs) of on-the-job experience in occupational group, and receive a satisfactory or better performance evaluation and a favorable recommendation from an immediate supervisor. The individual must also agree to uphold ACA's code of ethics and pass a 200-item multiple-choice exam.

Successful candidates (those who achieve a grade of 75 percent or better; 90 percent earns an honors credential) receive a certificate of certification, are able to add the appropriate title after their name (i.e., CCE, CCM, CCS or CCO), have a congratulatory letter sent to their immediate supervisors and can purchase the appropriate lapel pin. Many CCPs have indicated that becoming certified resulted in their being assigned to a more desirable job and/or promotion.

Exams are based on core competency profiles developed during a series of curriculum-developing seminars sponsored by the National Institute of Corrections. The specific examination questions are drawn from texts selected by members of the national Commission on Correctional Certification and consist of items developed by an independent certification consultant. Draft exams are reviewed by an independent psychometrician and the final version of each is reviewed and approved by the Commission on Correctional Certification. Qualified candidates have up to four hours to complete the exam.

Juvenile Careworkers' Certification

In a process similar to the one previously outlined, juvenile careworkers will be able to apply for certification in all four levels. Those who meet the criteria developed in collaboration with authorities in juvenile corrections will take specialized versions of the current certification exams.

The new exams will comprise 125 of the current questions plus 75 items, each in the four certification levels that are designed specifically for those in juvenile corrections. The new exam questions are based on ACA's four-volume Juvenile Careworker series. Draft items will go through the same type of review that the original exam questions were subjected to before approval for inclusion in exams for the new juvenile certification categories.

Conclusion

ACA views the development of certification for juvenile careworkers as the prototype for similar speciality certification processes for correctional health service personnel, trainers, chaplains and more. Although there are no guarantees, being a CCP may have a promotional advantage over similarly qualified but noncertified competitors. The Certification Program enhances professionalism among those who work in corrections and, thereby, helps improve the field's image. Many jurisdictions view certification as having achieved at the highest level of professionalism within the corrections field. In fact, New York State's Department of Correctional Services' Commissioner Glen S. Goord said in a recent article that appeared in DOCS Today, the department's official newsletter: "I congratulate those employees who have been certified by ACA, which attests that they are indeed true professionals in the field and assets to this department."

Robert B. Levinson, Ph.D., is a certification specialist in the American Correctional Association's Department of Professional Development. He can be reached at bobl@aca.org.
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Title Annotation:Juvenile Justice News
Author:Levinson, Robert B.
Publication:Corrections Today
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2004
Words:725
Previous Article:Welcome new members.
Next Article:2003 federal legislative roundup.
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