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AN OVERVIEW OF THE CIRS AND CIRS-A EXAMS Presenters: Dr. John Thompson, District of Columbia Office on Aging and Faed Hendry, Findhelp Information Services,

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Presentation on theme: "AN OVERVIEW OF THE CIRS AND CIRS-A EXAMS Presenters: Dr. John Thompson, District of Columbia Office on Aging and Faed Hendry, Findhelp Information Services,"— Presentation transcript:

1 AN OVERVIEW OF THE CIRS AND CIRS-A EXAMS Presenters: Dr. John Thompson, District of Columbia Office on Aging and Faed Hendry, Findhelp Information Services, Toronto Moderator: Clive Jones, AIRS

2 To provide an overview of the AIRS Certification process and requirements To discuss and review the critical areas of the exam To identify key resources for Certification preparation and provide strategies for writing the exam To review some sample questions 2 Webinar Objectives

3 The AIRS Certification Program awards professional credentials internationally to individual I&R and I&A practitioners. It is a recognition of demonstrated competencies in our field that include the knowledge, skills, attitudes and work-related behaviors needed to successfully execute our duties The AIRS Certification Program is operated in alignment with the standards provided by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence Institute for Credentialing Excellence 3 What is Certification?

4 Certification is available for three specializations within I&R. Individuals who successfully pass the AIRS certification examination are awarded a certificate and lapel pin, and may use the following credentials after their names: CIRS Certification for I&R Specialists CIRS-A Certification for I&R/A Specialists in Aging CRS Certification for Resource Specialists 4 What is Certification?

5 CIRS – Debut in 1996 CRS – Debut in 2000 The National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD) in partnership with AIRS, developed CIRS-A which debuted in 2001 InformCanada partnered with AIRS to develop Canadian versions of the CIRS and CRS which debuted in 2003 5 History of I&R Certification

6 CIRS (2,036 holders) Certification for Information and Referral Specialists CIRS-A (1,589 holders) Certification for Information and Referral Specialists in Aging CRS (320 holders) Certification for Resource Specialists 6 AIRS Certification Holders

7 The AIRS Certification Program, operating in accordance with national credentialing practices, measures and recognizes competence in the I&R profession, improving the professionalism of the field and the quality of service provided to the public. 7 AIRS Certification Mission

8 For the individual: Professional recognition for what you do. It addresses the misconception that I&R/I&A people just answer phones Provides a transferable qualification. Many job postings state a preference for applicants with AIRS certification. As a consequence, there is much more mobility of I&R/I&A staff Some agencies provide a pay increase for Certified staff 8 Benefits of Certification

9 For the agency: Builds confidence among staff – they believe more in their skills if they have been validated by an external body Enhances agency quality assurance and consistency of service levels within your own program Helps funders and other stakeholders understand and appreciate the professionalism involved in I&R/I&A The process of studying forces people to understand the context in which they perform their job and the skills that they need in a more systematic way 9 Benefits of Certification

10 For the people we serve: Enhances agency quality assurance and consistency of service levels between different I&R/I&A services Improves customer service. Staff are aware of the requirements for quality performance and are more ready and capable of meeting them 10 Benefits of Certification

11 To apply to take the exam, candidates must demonstrate eligibility based on I&R and equivalent experience combined with educational background I&R practitioners are eligible for initial certification only if they are currently engaged in CIRS, CIRS-A or CRS work 11 Exam Eligibility Requirements

12 At least 1 year of employment in I&R for applicants with a Bachelors or higher degree 2 years of employment in I&R for applicants with an Associates/Community College degree 3 years of employment in I&R for applicants with a High School diploma or GED 5 years of I&R employment with no educational qualifications 12 Exam Eligibility Requirements

13 Client-focused position with I&R function within human services Examples: social work, discharge planning, consumer credit counseling, community health nursing, independent living skills instruction and school counseling; or employment in a homeless or domestic abuse shelter, food pantry, group home or other similar settings 13 Acceptable Equivalent I&R Experience

14 Exam dates and locations are listed on the AIRS website All applicants who have had their eligibility confirmed can attend any exam location site but must give 30 days notice Bring your letter of conformation with you in addition to picture ID! 14 Finding an Exam

15 Assessment Skills (40%) Identification of Resources (20%) Referrals (25%) Documentation (5%) Follow-up (5%) Ethics, Professional and Legal Issues (5%) 15 6 Areas of the CIRS Exam

16 Welcome and Rapport (7%) Assessment Skills (33%) Identification of Resources and Preferences (15%) Information, Assistance, Referral and Advocacy (20%) Documentation (5%) Follow-up (10%) Ethics, Professional and Legal Issues (10%) 16 7 Areas of the CIRS-A Exam

17 The information and referral process is a complex one, which involves dealing with people, their problems and the maze of community, government and social services. Rapport/assessment skills include the following: Building trust and rapport Effective interviewing techniques Active listening and effective communication Call handling techniques Responding to cultural/ethnic differences Identifying crisis situations Identifying needs 17 Rapport/Assessment Skills

18 This area of the exam involves prioritizing needs and identifying appropriate available resources for the client. The safe and effective performance of this task includes knowledge of : Eligibility criteria for services Resources available in the community Techniques of accessing information about resources – information retrieval 18 Identification of Resources

19 This area of the exam involves identifying organizations that meet the assessed needs of the client: Providing information on resources to the client Resource specific information (e.g., location, hours, limitations) Obtaining client agreement on referrals Provide coaching and resource-specific information to the client to maximize their effectiveness in obtaining assistance and services. Advocate as necessary 19 Referrals

20 This area of the exam focuses on completing the record of the call or contact by documenting demographic information, outcomes (referrals/no referrals), client notes, follow-up notes, etc. The data collected should provide enough information about clients needs to identify the following: Service requests Unmet needs Trends in community service provision and/or gaps in service Demographic data Profiles of clients served (aggregate data only) 20 Documentation

21 This involves contacting the client to determine emotional status, if the referrals have been used, the quality of information and referral services rendered, or if additional referrals or are needed Techniques for establishing rapport (e.g., empathy, sensitivity, compassionate contact, receptivity/leadership) Communication and clarification techniques Techniques for responding to clients emotional states (e.g., reassurance, empathy, support ) 21 Follow-up

22 This area of the exam covers service provision that is consistent with the AIRS Information and Referral Bill of Rights Certified Information and Referral Specialists adhere to the requirements of mandatory reporting laws (e.g., elder/child abuse, domestic violence, suicidal/homicidal ideation ) 22 Ethical, Professional and Legal Issues

23 AIRS Standards for Professional Information & Referral Study Guide on NASUAD website – for I&A Specialists The ABCs of I&R (especially the first 8 sections) CIRS and CIRS-A Performance-Based Competencies for I&R and I&A Specialists CIRS and CIRS-A Job Task Analysis Online Training – Essential Learning 23 Key Resources for Certification Preparation

24 AIRS Certification Commission – members drawn from across I&R and I&A – independent from AIRS Board Exam creation begins with a Job Task Analysis … and is then followed by several stages using different groups of subject matter experts Entire process led of psychometrician and involves over 50 volunteers at the various stages. And then repeated about every 4 years 24 How Exams are Created

25 Once exams are in the field, question histories are examined in detail and any question that is displaying anomalous results is reviewed in detail and might be changed or replaced by a new question The evaluations are also carefully examined. So it is important to complete those! 25 How Exams are Created

26 Simulate the Required Behavior – Application of Knowledge Spaced Practice – It is better than cramming! Dont Psych Yourself Out! Pace Yourself (You have 72 seconds per question) 26 Tips for Writing Certification Exams

27 Read the Entire Question What to do when you dont know the answer Check the Time Check your Answers ….. and remember to breathe! 27 Tips for Writing Certification Exams

28 When inquirers lack focus during the assessment, it is: ( a) the responsibility of the I&R Specialist to ensure the conversation stays on track. (b) only natural because inquirers can take as much time as they want to express themselves. (c) the responsibility of the inquirer to empower themselves. (d) a signal that the Specialist needs to move on to the referral provision stage. 28 Sample Question One

29 Which of the following is an example of system advocacy? (a) A letter to a government office appealing a decision of a claim for disability benefits (b) A letter to a newspaper describing the difficulties people have claiming disability benefits even when they are eligible (c) A call to an agency that advocates for persons with disabilities on behalf of an inquirer needing additional assistance (d) Advice to an inquirer with disabilities on how to draw attention to their situation 29 Sample Question Two

30 An accessible service refers to which of the following? (a) A service that has no eligibility criteria (b) A service without physical, cultural or financial barriers (c) A service that has no waiting lists (d) A service where no identification is required 30 Sample Question Three

31 Exams are currently returned to the AIRS office to be marked through a Scantron system. Any exam which is just under the pass mark is hand-scored to make sure Candidates are informed by letter The process is Confidential. AIRS only responds to inquiries to say whether someone is or is not Certified. AIRS does not state whether anyone has not passed the exam 31 After the Exam

32 Individual exam scores are not shared. However, candidates can, upon request, be given a breakdown of their results in the areas of the exam (for example, 60% in the Assessment area; 80% in the Follow-up area, etc.) Note that AIRS will eventually be moving to a Computer-Based Testing (CBT) system 32 After the Exam

33 Once obtained, AIRS Certification lasts for 2 years from the time you pass the examination Every two years, you must apply for recertification You do not need to retake the examination but you must submit an application that documents at least 10 hours of I&R training over that two year period. (Note that this is 10 hours of training, NOT 10 hours of CEUs) 33 After the Exam

34 Thank you for being here! 34 Question and Answers

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