State of Nebraska
BOARD OF PAROLE
The Division of Parole Supervision recognizes Licensed Clinical Social Worker Katie Bloom as having accepted a commission as a First Lieutenant in a Licensed Clinical Social Worker capacity with the National Guard. Bloom will be completing a month long Officer Training in Texas and has committed to working one weekend a month in Lincoln for the National Guard, all while maintaining her position with the Division of Parole Supervision in Omaha. Bloom states, “I couldn’t be more excited to begin this new adventure and serve the citizens of Nebraska and my country.” Bloom has been with Parole as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker for the State of Nebraska since August 2014. The Division of Parole Supervision supports the engagement of their staff who have committed themselves to serve our citizens. Director Julie Micek, speaking on behalf of Bloom’s peers in Parole, has expressed her support and pride in Katie.
The Division of Parole Supervision has adopted the Effective Practices in Community Supervision (EPICS) model from the University of Cincinnati Corrections Institute (UCCI). EPICS offers a number of advantages to our agency, our officers, and our clients. In a big picture sense, EPICS is attractive because it is based on well accepted social science research. EPICS draws heavily from 2 well established Evidence Based Practices (EBP): The 8 Principles of Effective Intervention and Core Correctional Practices (CCP). CCP is a system developed by Dr. Edward Latessa and Dr. Christopher Lowenkamp to instruct corrections professionals in the use of cognitive behavioral interventions with their clients. The effectiveness of CCP is supported by dozens of studies. This research laid the foundation for the development of EPICS. EPICS takes the tried and true methods from CCP and applies them specifically to a community setting. The 8 Principles of Effective Intervention were published by the National Institute of Corrections. They are a set of principles that, when reflected in policy, procedure, and day-to-day work, best position an agency to reduce recidivism and change client behavior. EPICS reflects 6 of the 8 principles: Enhance Intrinsic Motivation; Target Interventions; Skill Train with Directed Practice; Increase Positive Reinforcement; Measure Relevant Processes; and Provide Measurement Feedback.
In a more practical sense, EPICS is exciting for us because it fills a need that has existed for many years. EPICS provides our officers with a systematic, structured way to conduct one-on-one meetings with our moderate and high risk clients. An EPICS session is divided into 4 parts: a check-in on how things have been going since the last meeting; a review of the last session and any homework or treatment progress; an intervention; and homework to complete for the next meeting. Even more importantly, EPICS provides our officers with proven tools to address client situations and improve the outcome of similar situations in the future. Most often, the root cause of criminal behavior, or even just general noncompliance can be traced to either a lack of motivation, problematic thinking, a skill deficit, or poor problem solving. The EPICS model has 4 basic interventions: The Cost Benefit Analysis; the Behavior Chain; Structured Skill Building; and Problem Solving. Officers are also trained to use Effective Authority, Effective Disapproval, and Effective Reinforcement. These skills are helpful in addressing noncompliance and highlighting success.
Our officers received their initial training in EPICS in January of 2017 and subsequently completed 6 months of follow on coaching with a master instructor from UCCI. Parallel to this, all of our supervisors were trained as EPICS coaches and they picked up where UCCI left off. We started off small and gradually built up our officers’ skill level before requiring that EPICS be used with all moderate and high risk clients in August of 2017. This was a massive change in how we conduct our day-to-day business and the road to full implementation was a long one. In September of 2017, 9 staff were selected to receive additional training to become EPICS trainers. This is a challenging process, requiring a week of training, observation by a master instructor from UCCI, and demonstrations of coding and coaching ability. Once the trainers complete their certification process in May of 2018, our agency will be fully self-sustaining on this critical piece of our goal to become an evidence-based agency. This puts us right on track with the normal timeline for an agency to fully implement Evidence Based Practices
On October 19, 2017, Parole staff from across the state came together for its Fall All Staff Meeting. It was just over a year since staff had their first meeting on September 23, 2016, under their new agency. The first meeting was an important event as it was the first time the agency had come together since being separated from the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services and placed under the Nebraska Board of Parole. Staff had the opportunity to interact with the members of the Board, hear their vision for the agency, and ask questions. The staff also participated in team building activities. One of the highlights of the day had the supervisors presenting individual recognition to each member of their respective teams.
The meeting wrapped up with Toni Jensen, MSW, MPA, leading us through a powerful exercise in reflection and visioning. Many staff shared their personal reasons for working in this field and why the work done each and every day by Parole is so important. The October 2017 All Staff Meeting again featured Toni Jensen, MSW, MPA, as the guest speaker. She led the group in a session that focused on Evidence Based Principles, the accomplishments that had been realized since transitioning to the new agency for which the agency should be proud, a group exercise giving staff the opportunity to review how well the agency did, to include what needs work and what was done well.
The speaker then presented on the topic of “So….Now What?” The session culminated with each group providing its #1 idea they would like to see as a goal for 2018. The information from the session will be utilized to help provide direction for the agency in the months ahead.
Members of the Nebraska Board of Parole attended a portion of the meeting and Director Julie Micek gave a presentation on the state of the state which included an update on the expansion of programs within Parole and what’s on the horizon, including implementation of custodial sanctions. Parole’s Awards and Recognition Committee (ARC) recognized staff that had joined the agency since the September 2016 meeting, plans for upcoming events, and the work being done by ARC to recognize staff for years of service and other awards. ARC announced a new award, the Shining Star Award to be presented bi-annually and was pleased to announce the first recipient of the award as Director Micek for her leadership in Parole’s transition to the new agency. The day concluded with a team building activity.
Although the transition has been full of uncertainty and change, each and every employee has a tremendous dedication to helping our clients and protecting the public. That commitment to improving our communities is the foundation that this new agency will continue to build upon.
The Lincoln Parole Office continues to participate in a community collaborative relationship with the Saratoga Elementary School.
In November 2017 the Lincoln Regional Parole Office within the Division of Parole Supervision coordinated a fundraiser in which donations were used to benefit Saratoga Elementary School students in need. This year’s fundraiser could not have been successful without collaboration with the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) Central Office Employee Activity Committee. The fundraiser, a chili cook-off, was held on November 9, 2017, at NDCS Central Office. Donations of over $300 were collected with 100 percent of the donations used to purchase mittens, coats, scarves, hats, and other much needed clothing items for those students in need.
In December 2017 the Lincoln Regional Parole Office participated in an “Adopt a Family” event with Saratoga Elementary School. The Lincoln Parole Office adopted a family in need in which one or more of the children attend Saratoga Elementary. This year the Lincoln Parole Office adopted a family of 5. The Parole Office staff donated money to buy Christmas gifts for the family.
Dr. Jennifer Miller was nominated for the Excellence in Leadership Award in recognition of her outstanding leadership and efforts in conducting research that benefits the Nebraska Board of Parole/Parole Supervision and the criminal justice system as a whole.
Dr. Miller is clearly an outstanding professional, mentor, research administrator and colleague. She has worked to advance research related to the criminal justice system. Dr. Miller’s ideas and strategies for developing research projects and engaging other professionals in the field has been extraordinary. She has opened the door for criminal justice professionals to be willing to evaluate and determine if the programs and methods being utilized are working.
Dr. Miller provides presentations, educational seminars and meets with staff to explain and lead discussions related to the research she is conducting. She does this in a way that allows others to understand the purpose, and also understand the results.
Dr. Miller is a dedicated professional who has demonstrated leadership within the field and within our agency, the Nebraska Board of Parole and Parole Supervision. We acknowledge her as a well deserving colleague and congratulate her in this receiving this prestigious award.
As shared in the Update on Parole Administration’s Transition to Nebraska Board of Parole posted on the Nebraska Board of Parole’s website earlier this year, the one year anniversary of the Division of Parole Supervision being placed under the Board’s authority was July 1, 2017. The update included the significant strides that had been made in implementing provisions contained in legislation that had passed in 2015 and 2016 as well as the changes that had been made within Parole due to the transition to a new agency.
Since that time, Parole has continued to make strides in these areas to include:
- Supervisors trained in Yellow Belt, Governor Rickett’s Training Initiative, and completion of first project using this process improvement methodology;
- EPICS (Effective Practices in Community Supervision) Training for Trainers;
- Partnership with the Department of Administrative Services’ HR Shared Services to assist with hiring, onboarding, and payroll;
- Contracts signed with county jails across the state for custodial sanctions;
- Availability of online payment of programming fees for clients;
- Development of “Community of Practice” for Specialized Parole Officers—will be discussing this concept and ideas for other Communities of Practice that can be developed throughout the agency going forward;
- Resource Centers at the Omaha and Lincoln Regional Parole Offices which provide programming and services for clients; and
- Pilot and implementation of Alternative to Incarceration Rehabilitation Program in which officers communicate with clients utilizing technology through a partnership with Corrisoft Company enabling more consistent communication, more effective delivery of support services, and better management of client activity.
As we move into 2018, we will be developing specific goals for the agency. In addition, plans are underway to train Specialized Parole Officers and others within the agency in new Cognitive Behavior Groups. We will also be working to revamp the in-service training program for all staff as well as revise and improve the agency’s new employee training. Further, we will continue working to address gaps in services in the regional areas of the state.
We continue to make progress in the transition and look forward to 2018 with enthusiasm and purpose. With change comes endless possibilities.
Since approximately 2006, officers of the Lincoln Regional Parole Office have had the privilege of partnering with the Lincoln Police Department (LPD), Adult Probation, and Juvenile Probation in a collaborative detail called Project Safe Neighborhood. Project Safe Neighborhood is a grant-funded detail that allows Parole and Probation Officers to partner up and ride with a Lincoln Police Officer. The details are held on various Friday nights during the summer months from 5 p.m. to midnight. The detail focuses on allowing Parole Officers to ride along with LPD officers and also provides an opportunity for Parole Officers to conduct residence visits with their clients during nontraditional hours. Project Safe Neighborhood has been monumental in building collaborative relationships between our agencies for the betterment of the community we serve.