McQuillin, S., Lyons, M., Becker, K., Hart, M., Cohen, K. (2019) Strengthening and expanding child services in low resource communities: The role of task-shifting and just-in-time training. American Journal of Community Psychology. doi:10.1002/ajcp.12314
- Task–shifting refers to redistributing tasks from professionals to workers who have less training.
- Task–shifting may be a key strategy in expanding child services in low resource communities.
- Just-in-Time Training (JITT) refers to efﬁcient, on-demand training experiences.
- JITT may strengthen task–shifting efforts.
- Task–shifting and JITT involve unique ethical considerations.
In the United States, the demand for child mental health services is increasing, while the supply is limited by workforce shortages. These shortages are unlikely to be corrected without signiﬁcant structural changes in how mental health services are provided. One strategy for bridging this gap is task–shifting, deﬁned as a process by which services that are typically delivered by professionals are moved to individuals with less extensive qualiﬁcations or training. Although task–shifting can increase the size of the workforce, there are challenges related to training new workers. In this paper, we propose Just-In-Time Training (JITT) as one strategy for improving task–shifting efforts. We deﬁne JITT as on-demand training experiences that only include what is necessary, when it is necessary, to promote competent service delivery. We offer a proof of concept from our own work shifting counseling and academic support tasks from school mental health professionals to pre-baccalaureate mentors, citing lessons learned during our iterative process of JITT development. We conclude with a series of key considerations for scaling up the pairing of task–shifting and JITT, including expanding the science of JITT and anticipating how task–shifting and JITT would work within the context of dynamic mental health service systems.
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