Support Staff Add Value to Onsite Work

April 26, 2018 | Lucy Hodgman

Lucy Hodgman

As Taiwan prepares to implement Structured Decision Making® (SDM) assessments, NCCD staff have had some exciting work experiences there. I was delighted to accompany Raelene Freitag, NCCD’s manager of international and special projects, to Taipei in January 2018. Our task was to assist workgroups dedicated to refining the SDM® safety assessment, risk assessment, and risk reassessment for use by child protection workers throughout Taiwan.

I am an editor at NCCD. Our team’s work is typically behind the scenes: We occupy a sunny corner of the office, spending our days finessing sentences, checking for consistency, and tweaking punctuation before returning documents to authors in their final form. Previously, unless you visited our office, you would not likely meet the editors face to face. That is starting to change as editors and other support staff have had opportunities to travel. You may be surprised to learn that having an editor on an onsite visit benefits an organization in many ways.

An NCCD program staff member may make multiple visits over the years to a specific jurisdiction, dedicated to learning and understanding the specific needs of the area when it comes to policy and language. Throughout Raelene’s visits to Taiwan, she has formed a strong relationship with the staff there, and she is devoted to understanding the nuances of Taiwan’s needs for their SDM system implementation. An editor’s experience is different but also valuable. I have gained breadth over the course of my everyday work that I was able to apply to this onsite visit. While each document I edit involves learning about a certain jurisdiction’s needs and honoring their differences, I also benefit from the perspective of seeing NCCD’s tools and services collectively. Over the course of a single week, our team works on documents for every corner of the world. The lens of seeing the differences in these documents can also bring into focus those things that might benefit one jurisdiction from doing similarly to another, particularly in terms of language. This breadth of knowledge works as an effective counterpart to the specific deep knowledge that our program staff have of each individual jurisdiction’s needs and preferences.

I have learned in my time at NCCD that words are often central to what matters to a place. Language is important to everyone, and there is a meaningful cultural component to the language an area uses. As an editor, my job involves looking for how to honor the specific language a county, state, or country needs. Simultaneously, I aim to make global work simple and effective by applying consistent style standards. Traveling to another place can make things click in an immediate way. Later taking that knowledge back to the office means it can be applied efficiently and effectively to future projects—balancing differences with similarities—and shared with other team members.

Sarah Beach, a program support specialist at NCCD, recently traveled to Singapore in a role analogous to mine in Taiwan. In her daily role, Sarah does not typically communicate directly with clients; but on her trip, she collaborated with Singapore staff to apply her knowledge to the documents in real-time. Streamlining the process in this manner reduces costs for the client.

There are other benefits to having an editor or other support staff member on an onsite visit. Raelene appreciates being able to focus on the content of the discussion, knowing that her colleague has precision of language covered. This frees up more time on a visit for productive discussion. This is something that felt particularly important in Taiwan as we worked (with talented translators) effectively in a multilingual setting. This type of team composition means that everyone can do what they do best.

Lucy Hodgman is an editor at NCCD.