Professional Standards Answers to your top questions about federal Professional Standards training requirements. NEVER LET IT BE SAID THAT SCHOOL NUTRITION IS A SIMPLE BUSINESS! Regulatory language can be difficult to understand, even with the best efforts to minimize “government speak.” Plus, the actual application of a federal rule often uncovers areas that need clarification (and, sometimes, changes), as the requirement evolves from theory to practice. As your best source to turn to in understanding and continuing to manage the implementation of the Professional Standards rule, SNA is always working to address the questions that Association members continue to raise. We’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked queries—and our answers—here. Since USDA may update this information at any time, you are encouraged to bookmark the Professional Standards page at SchoolNutrition.org for the latest changes. Q: I’ve completed a lot of training this school year and I’m not sure that I’ll be able to do as much training next year, plus the annual training requirements are higher for SY 2016-17! Can I carry over excess training hours to the next year? A: Yes. At the discretion of your state agency, excess annual training hours may be carried over from an immediately previous school year and applied to the immediately subsequent school year. This is intended to help provide flexibility while ensuring that employees receive a reasonable amount of training every school year. Documentation to show completion of training must be available to the state agency for review. Remember, you must check with your state first, as the specifics may vary. Q: Does my participation at a food trade show or exhibit hall count toward Professional Standards training? A: Again, this decision is made at the discretion of the state agency, with the possibility of a maximum of 2 hours of exhibit/food show time counting toward Professional Standards training. SNA has created a chart that notes the training hours for trade shows that have been approved by each state agency as has been made available to SNA to date. This chart is found at www.schoolnutrition.org/ProfessionalStandards. Q: I am confused about the difference between SNA CEUs and training hours for Professional Standards. A: SNA has aligned all of its educational programming, including the CEUs that are required to renew your Certificate in School Nutrition. 1 SNA CEU is the equivalent of 1 hour of Professional Standards training. Whatever training counts for Professional Standards also will count for CEUs (unless it’s less than 15 minutes; see the next question). Check out “YOUR Professionalism Is OUR Top Priority,” on page 104 or visit www.schoolnutrition.org/Certificate to learn more. Q: My employees and I rarely have time for a whole hour of training and we often conduct training in shorter increments. Is this allowed? A: For Professional Standards, shorter formats that add up over time are fine—but you must track these! SNA’s requirements are a bit different, because the Certificate represents a higher standard of professional development: SNA CEUs are a minimum of one hour, but two 30-minute or four 15-minute trainings within the same subtopic code—and within the same year—will be accepted as one CEU. Q: Are there certain types of training that don’t count for either Professional Standards or SNA CEUs? A: Any training that doesn’t help you, directly, to do your job doesn’t count. While a yoga, Zumba or personal empowerment class may make you a more energetic, happier person at work and home, it does not count toward the federal requirement or SNA’s Certificate program. Similarly, training activities about association management and legislative advocacy do not count. Those of you who are longtime members may remember when such sessions did count as SNA CEUs, but since aligning our programs with Professional Standards they no longer do so. Q: Who will check to be sure that my district is meeting Professional Standards requirements? A: State agencies are charged with monitoring compliance and doing so as part of the three-year Administrative Review process. Q: As a director, what type of documentation will I be required to produce during my Administrative Review that proves my team has completed the required number of annual training hours? A: You should check with your state agency, but at this time, there is no federal form or tool to complete. Find the tracking system that works best for you to show what training was taken, who received it and when the hours were completed. The reviewer will want to have all information in one place. USDA/FNS has developed a downloadable tool to help you track the training of individual employees. SNA also has a training tracking grid you can find on its Professional Standards web page. This Microsoft Excel® spreadsheet features dropdown menus for both Key Areas and Key topics. Also, whenever you attend an SNA national conference, you can access a training tracker in digital or paper form. Many technology providers serving the K-12 foodservice segment are creating software modules to help with this task, as well. In addition, encourage your staff members to save copies of agendas, certificates of completion and other proof of training. While state agencies are unlikely to check the proof of training for every employee in your operation, they may select a number of employees at random, as SNA does with its random audit for the Certificate and Credentialing Programs. Don’t wait to be surprised at Review time—ask your state agency to let you know how they intend to evaluate this requirement. Q: Are specific training topic areas required? A: Training can be in any topic included in one of the four Key Areas. The decision on what training topics to pursue for annual training should be made by the individual and her or his supervisor, based on personal training goals. At some point, USDA may require specific areas of training to address program integrity or other critical issues, but this has yet to be established. Q: Where can I find appropriate training opportunities or resources for my entire staff? A: Training can be provided in a variety of formats, including online and in-person opportunities. In direct response to member feedback, SNA has developed a Professional Standards Learning Plan that is prepopulated with a suggested course list that was compiled by SNA’s Professional Development Committee. It includes links to 36 free courses! The plan provides you with suggested training for every level of staff—and a method for tracking. And don’t forget other SNA training resources, including national conferences, free webinars and the “To Your Credit” tests found in each issue of this magazine (see page 183). USDA also has created an online database featuring more than 400 training opportunities and resources that are appropriate for meeting Professional Standards requirements. This can be found at http://profession alstandards.nal.usda.gov. The Institute of Child Nutrition (formerly the National Food Service Management Institute) is another good source for training programs. Q: How many hours of training will I and my staff members need for SY 2016-17? A: Annual training requirements for all districts are the same, regardless of size. Since the Professional Standards rule will be in its second year of implementation, the number of hours are more for most staff levels than they were for SY 2015-16. • Directors were required to complete 8 hours for 2015-16. They will be required to complete 12 hours in 2016-17. • Managers were required to complete 6 hours during 2015-16. This will increase to 10 hours in 2016-17. • Employees who work more than 20 hours per week were required to complete 4 hours in 2015-16. They will be required to complete 6 hours in 2016-17. • There is no change for employees who work less than 20 hours per week. They will continue to be required to complete 4 hours of training each year. • Training received on or after April 1, 2015, may count toward the SY 2015-16 requirement. Q: If I started my job after the start of the school year—or I have staff that were not hired until later in the year—what do I do? A: Anyone hired after January 1 is only required to complete half of the required training hours for their position by the end of that school year. This applies to directors, managers and staff. Check www.schoolnutrition.org/ProfessionalStandards regularly for updates!
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