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10:55 AM Wed, Oct. 17th

GROUP HOMES: House-manager course to start at Yavapai College

Prescott Mayor Harry Oberg, second from left, discusses curriculum points with, from left, Zack Lindley of Prescott House, Amy Fackrell of Viewpoint, Mary Laymen of La Tierra School, and Melissa Thornburg of Prescott House. The discussion took place during a July 23 focus group on the curriculum for a structured sober living house-manager training course.

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Prescott Mayor Harry Oberg, second from left, discusses curriculum points with, from left, Zack Lindley of Prescott House, Amy Fackrell of Viewpoint, Mary Laymen of La Tierra School, and Melissa Thornburg of Prescott House. The discussion took place during a July 23 focus group on the curriculum for a structured sober living house-manager training course.

PRESCOTT — In a key step toward implementing the regulations allowed by a new state group-home law, a house-manager training course is set to kick off in September.

Molly McGinn, managing partner of TreeHouse Learning Community, reported this week that several dates have been set for a four-day class for house managers of structured sober living homes.

The first course is scheduled for two consecutive Friday/Saturdays in September – Sept. 9 and 10, and Sept. 16 and 17. Additional four-day courses are planned for October and November.

The class will take place at Yavapai College, under the college’s Community Education program.

Dennis Garvey, dean of Yavapai College’s Division of Life-Long Learning, explained that the Community Education classes are non-credit courses that are largely “market-driven.”

Typically, Garvey said, community members approach the college with ideas for classes, and “If people sign up, it goes.” On the other hand, if a class does not attract enrollment, it does not occur.

McGinn and Celeste Holly of TreeHouse’s outreach and academics say the new house-manager training program is already attracting prospective students.

Slots in the first round were nearly full by late this past week, they said, and the October and November courses also were generating interest.

McGinn said each four-day course would accommodate 20 students. The tuition fee is $329.

Overall, McGinn estimates that as many as 240 house managers are working in Prescott and could ultimately be required to take the course.

The training program has been discussed for months as an accompaniment to a proposed Prescott city ordinance on structured sober living homes.

A group-home bill sponsored by State Rep. Noel Campbell of Prescott was approved by the Arizona Legislature this year, and is set to take effect on Aug. 6. The new law will give local governments the authority to more strictly regulate structured sober living homes.

The City of Prescott was a strong advocate of the bill, citing the recent proliferation of group homes in the city. Although Prescott has estimated the number of group homes in the city as high as 170, officials now say the number is likely in the 110 to 120 range.

In recent months, the Prescott City Council has discussed how best to follow through on the new state law. This past week, the council heard a proposal from the city’s legal department on possible new requirements, including: 24-hour supervision at group homes; minimum qualifications and training for house managers; and a defined plan for discharge from a recovery program.

Although the city has yet to issue its draft ordinance, officials have discussed requiring that house managers complete the training course and be certified. The council is expected to discuss the details of the ordinance again in August, and then review a draft ordinance in September.

The course was initially suggested as a partnership between the City of Prescott and Yavapai College, but the city’s proposal to put $20,000 into the program and then be reimbursed through tuition fees raised concerns among the council and community members at a Prescott City Council meeting in May.

Since then, TreeHouse, which developed the curriculum, opted to self-fund the program, McGinn said.

To get feedback on the proposed curriculum from major stakeholders, a focus-group meeting took place this past week. About 50 people, including group home owners, house managers, city officials, emergency medical teams, and college officials, attended the focus group.

Among the proposed components of the course: disease model of addiction; crisis prevention and intervention; client rights and responsibilities; client confidentiality and professional communication; first-aid and CPR; on-going education; ethics; recovery and respecting neighbors; and reversing the stigma.

McGinn, who has a PhD and 23 years of experience in corporate consulting and training, will serve as an instructor for the course, as will Liz Athens and Marie Tueller, who both have master’s degrees.

McGinn said students would be required to pass demonstration tests at the end of each module. “They will need to demonstrate that they’ve got it,” she said.

While the course could evolve into a credit class in the future, Garvey said, that would require going through the college’s curriculum committee. At this point, he said, the Community Education “makes the most sense” for the house-manager training.

Along with local students, McGinn said representatives of the recovery industry from other Arizona communities have also inquired about the course.

Information on the course is available online at: http://www.campusce.net/YC/course/course.aspx?C=5787&pc=1&mc=&sc=