Workforce Registry Name: The Ohio Professional Registry (OPR)
Participation status: Mandatory
ECE Workforce Population: 170,000+ active users
Registry Functions and Professional Supports:
Access to Financial Well-being Support or Training
|Credential Approval||Competencies Self-Assessment||Training & Professional Development Transcripts|
|Background Check Module or Portal||Timely Information for Workforce Members||Professional Development Planning Tool||Training Approval|
|Career Ladder / Lattice Levels Assignment||Direct Pay to Providers (Stipends, Supplements, Scholarships, etc.)||Professional Standards and Competencies||Training Calendar|
|Career Pathways Tools||Director Approval||Registration / Payment Services for Trainings||Training Organization Approval|
|Workforce Data Reports||Head Teacher Approval||Scholarship Administration or Application Processing||Verify training attendance, history, and education|
|Conference/Sessions Approval||International Education Evaluation||Solicit Feedback, Input from Workforce Members||Workforce Survey|
|Core Knowledge Areas crosswalk and alignments||Learning Management System (LMS)||Trainer Approval|
For more information, visit the NWRA’s Registry Membership Profile
Summer 2023 Interview with:
Kelly Smith, Chief Technology Officer
Tiffany Blumhorst, Former Director of Ohio Professional Registry
Please give us an overview of the ECE workforce registry in your state? Who does it serve and reach in your state?
The Ohio Professional Registry (OPR) is Ohio’s premiere workforce registry information system that promotes individual professional growth and development. The OPR captures data about early childhood, child services agencies and school age professionals in a variety of roles and settings including home visitors, service coordinators, early childhood mental health professionals, foster care families and providers, etc. The OPR serves as a comprehensive data repository for employment, professional development, education and credentials.
Our history began as serving only early childhood professionals but now integrates with other state agencies whose partnership has been integral to the growth and reach of the registry. Registry participation is mandatory and through the registry we provide the request form for the necessary background checks for professionals working in the field of early childhood as required by licensing. Voluntary participation is open for anyone who would like to get certain credentials but if a professional is working in a licensed setting or applying for any one of our scholarships, tuition reimbursement assistance, or any available support, a registry profile is required as part of the application process.
The OPR is housed at and managed by the Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association (OCCRRA).
What is the role of The Ohio Professional Registry (OPR) within the Professional Development System?
The Ohio Professional Registry (OPR) is integrated with the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services (Health & Human Services Agency) and the Department of Education. These are the state’s licensing agencies for early childhood and school aged programs. The complete integration of the licensing system includes an electronic employee record chart inspection tool. Registry data populates all the employment, training, and professional development into the inspection tool based upon licensing rules.
ODJFS children’s services saw the benefits of the registry as the centralized system for professional development and as the fiscal entity providing financial support to programs. We brought in the Qualified Residential Treatment Programs (QRTP) and foster care agencies to support their grant applications and became the fiscal agents for them. The registry is also written into the Department of Health Home visiting rules, the Department of Developmental Disabilities and the Early Intervention Service Coordinator rules. The Registry Director was involved in each of the rule writing processes. We have evolved to be the core system for the professional development framework in Ohio.
The registry has also been named the statewide solution for applications for programs and professionals due to our mechanism to collect, track data, process applications quickly, and distribute support efficiently. We have proven that we have the information and the processes together to support the workforce in the state of Ohio.
Please expand on the types of functions and services OPR provides that are effectively supporting and strengthening the ECE professionals in your state.
CAREER PATHWAYS AND WORKFORCE SUPPORTS
The career ladder is tied to the document verification process, and career pathways points get updated automatically within the participants’ profiles. Professionals gain experience as they keep their professional development current. Our registry also aligns career ladders with Ohio’s state regulations.
In terms of supports the following functions and services are built into the registry:
- The registry administers the training and instructor approval process in our state. We also manage all the workforce support programs such as T.E.A.C.H scholarships, Powering Optimal Wages and Encouraging Retention (POWER) Ohio incentives, Child Care stabilization grants and HERO Pay.
- Additional system supports for our community and professionals through partnerships with LENA (Language ENvironment Analysis) and LUNA (Latinas Unidas por los niños y niñas de America). In addition, we manage Early Learning Resources Ohio (ELRO)- the online knowledge hub.
- OPR issues credentials, endorsements, and certificates.
- The registry also conducts document verification- a process that verifies the qualifications of the professionals working in childcare, home visiting and many other agencies mentioned earlier. A big component of that work is the International Education Evaluation system.
- The Department of Health Ohio Healthy Programs initiative and programs use the registry to demonstrate they are meeting health standards through their organization’s dashboard.
- The mentorship project within the Ohio’s Quality Rating Improvement System to locate mentors included an online application in the registry and is available again in the future if the funders want to include mentorships in any new projects..
- To expand on the state’s 20 year work with T.E.A.C.H, we built an online application in the registry for the ECE professionals and administrators to complete from their registry profiles, and built a nightly feed to send data to the T.E.A.C.H. national database.
- Last but not least, the background check request module is integrated within the registry for the state personnel to pull the online request form, process the background check, and complete the cycle to notify the professional and their program administrator of the results of the background check. By leveraging the registry with the background check request module, the state achieved huge savings and efficiencies for the entire field and went from one staff completing 10 background checks in one day to completing 35 background checks.
All of these workforce supports are wrapped around the registry – all as separate components but integrated seamlessly.
“OPR applications are a statewide solution for professionals and programs”
What is one thing you are most proud of about the work the registry has done to support the workforce in the state of Ohio?
It is hard to pick one thing. We are proud of the International Education Evaluations because we addressed a huge financial barrier for our professionals with foreign degrees. It is known nationally that the evaluation process is very hard and expensive, and we took the initiative to create a solution within the registry to support and ensure all of our professionals are included in the registry without that roadblock. The second one is the support to Governor DeWine’s Hero Pay Initiative because of the innovative and equitable approach to make EFT payments directly to professionals.
For Kelly Smith, former OPR Director and current Chief Technology Officer, the proudest thing about the state registry is that it is the one stop shop for all workforce supports- that one system of record where all other systems connect to ( employment compliance, incentives, professional development, credentialing) which lifts a huge burden for the workforce to ensure they are not navigating different places that work in silos.
We are proud to say that this is all because we have the full support of the governor’s office. The governor’s office supports our registry, utilizes registry data for decision making and continues to provide opportunities for growth of the system. We continue to evolve to better serve our workforce with our state agency partners.
What are some equitable approaches/initiatives the registry has implemented or played a role in to ensure early childhood providers have the opportunity to both succeed and be supported throughout their professional journey?
We can start with the ADA compliant professional development modules through our Learning Management System (LMS) that can be translated into several different languages to provide equitable access to training.
Once again, we believe the International Education Evaluation project is innovative, equitable and one of a kind. Many communities are serviced by this funded project supported by our governor. For example, in Franklin County we have a large Somali population, second in the US, and we can evaluate their education completed outside of the US at no additional cost for the professional.
We are currently excited to share the work we are doing to make the registry a mobile responsive system. Our workforce can use any mobile device and use translation applications to use the system in their preferred language. This will eliminate many barriers including access to a computer, Internet, adequate Wi-Fi to take training or upload documents for verification, etc.
How do you leverage workforce voices and input in the design and implementation of the registry?
We have a registry focus group convened for our professional development search enhancements. We took their feedback into consideration when we were redesigning our professional development platform. In addition, we receive daily feedback directly from the professionals through our customer support work. The workforce always has great ideas for enhancements that help improve their interactions with the registry from adding a small icon to building new reports, etc. We are constantly listening, tracking and deploying new upgrades.
Our state agency staff also provides input. Overall, we have great registry ambassadors and people who are knowledgeable of the registry that are in constant communication with us.
We are making our system unique to meet the needs of our state.
All of the input allows for professionals to maintain their data current. They can upload documents and update information at any time. Employment information is up to date and maintained through different system verifications- for example, when a childcare program closes, we have mechanisms in place to ensure employment is end dated for the professional as accurately as possible. Program administrators also provide feedback and they have access to organizational dashboards to help keep information current with and for their staff. We can pull real time data through custom built and canned reports available through the system and other sophisticated public dashboards. We partner with researchers, policy makers and partners to make effective use of the rich data available.
What role has the National Workforce Registry Alliance played to support the workforce registry and professional development efforts in your state?
Tiffany shares that the Partners in Employment Review (PER) support provided has been the most valuable. It helped review our processes, solidifying what we had in place and gave us core data fields that were crucial to add to our system such as how to collect and track wage data with hours of employment. Through that process, we improved our data collection, policies, and procedures. We built a thorough operations manual that we use daily and effectively.
For Kelly, the professional development offered through the NWRA has been a highlight, especially through her time serving on the board. The NWRA facilitates working with other states, building great professional relationships, and learning about these other systems to help enhance each other. Tiffany corroborates that the listserv and communication that is facilitated with other states is extremely helpful. Just a recent example, a state registry asked and shared how they are enhancing the data collection elements around demographics, compensation, and benefits. As a community we help each other improve our systems and the way we ask for information with the workforce. Our line of work in registries is vastly different and nuanced, which is why I find it rewarding to be able to talk to other directors that work with the same goal of supporting the workforce as we do. We can maintain this community through the NWRA.