Interview with La Rae Heyl, Training & Performance Manager at Four Oaks Family & Children’s Services.
The Four Oaks agency and its staff have been recognized in Iowa and nationally for innovative and effective treatment of youth who come to the agency with a variety of behavioral and emotional problems. Four Oaks has received national recognition for its welfare reform programs that prevent child abuse and promote family selfsufficiency. The agency is a leader in developing partnerships with public and private entities that are designed to improve the quality and cost effectiveness of community-based services.
Q. What was the tipping point to implement online training?
The training DVDs were getting damaged and the state started increasing requirements for the quality of education that we needed to provide. I have 15 volunteer trainers and even with their help, I couldn’t figure out how to move those bodies throughout the state. It was a no-brainer, from a business perspective, that I needed to do more training online.
Q. From a compliance perspective, was there an advantage to using online training?
If you don’t meet the training deliverables in the child welfare system, your contract will be in jeopardy. A lot of it is being able to provide these requirements in Relias without having to do any outside training. Our compliance today has increased incredibly compared to when we did not have a learning management system. We just got COA reaccredited and they thought our training was outstanding. Not one of those people had heard of Relias before.
Q. During reaccreditation, was tracking and reporting easy?
I don’t have any paper records anymore, I don’t need them. I can just print their transcript in Relias! When I saw all of the reporting features available I was like “WHOA.” I am now a super-huge fan of the course status report. I run that twice a week just for myself. We are so held by licensure and state contracts, in a heartbeat I can provide you with whatever you want and I don’t have to do the legwork to create a report, pop it into Excel, make a bunch of graphs—because it’s already there. The reporting features are great for reporting to the board and upper management in a different way about how we should really be looking at compliance.
Q. Have you seen cost savings with Relias Learning?
I figured out we saved $30,000 the first year using Relias. Everything down to the cost of making all the paper copies I needed for our multiple trainings. We were able to cut out the mileage our organization was paying for staff to come to our main campus, which was the only place training was taking place. The training conferences that I would send people to for ethics or bringing in a speaker for ethics, all of that just went away. I didn’t have to bring in speakers for this and that, I can now do all this on Relias and this is where it all started adding up.
“I figured out we saved $30,000 the first year using Relias … and this is where it all started adding up.”
Q. Have you found creative uses for the Relias LMS?
Yes, especially managing the HR part of it, making sure we have the right employees in the right hierarchies. I can do that all in Relias as well as line it up with our ADP system to make sure we have accurate records. Our employee benefits are changing; tomorrow a course is going to go into Relias explaining the changes. It will be a resource for our staff. I love it too because I can put anything I want in there, whether it is a policy or a new HR function. I love the versatility of it and it is ours, we can make it ours and also use what Relias has.