The Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) is a professional association for individuals and organizations who provide information and referral services (I&R). Every year AIRS hosts a national conference that serves as a chance for leaders in the field throughout North America to present on I&R best practices and innovative solutions.
This year’s conference was hosted in Atlanta during the first week of June. 211 LA’s very own Resource Information Systems Director, Laura James, was approached to co-present with Kathy Sheridan, Statewide Quality Assurance Coordinator of Michigan 211. Laura and Kathy have both been recognized for their expertise in resource systems development and were asked to provide a day-long intensive workshop focused on the Resource Specialist position.
Resource Specialists are certified database curators. They identify new resources and create agency and service profiles according to the standards and best practices identified by AIRS. 211 LA has 5 dedicated individuals on our resource team, who work tirelessly to maintain and improve the database of over 50,000 health and human resources in LA County. Each one of these team members are certified as a Community Resource Specialist - Database Curator (CRS-DC) in order to provide our residents with the best information possible.
In preparation for the Conference, Laura and Kathy spent many hours discussing frequently asked questions and useful tools around the Resource Specialist position. Individuals are often curious about what exactly goes into the creation of a resource database and how Resource Specialists are fundamental to this process. The two decided to develop a workshop with a focus and framework on the standards that are the foundation of Resource Specialist’s work.
Together, Laura and Kathy made this workshop on Resource Specialists engaging and informative. Attendees were provided resource-related tools, participated in several practical exercises, shared in each other’s varied experiences, and had the opportunity to ask questions of their peers. The day ended with a rousing round of Resource themed Jeopardy; leaving participants with lasting information and memories.
Following her co-led workshop, Laura was able to take part in a variety of workshops and meetings throughout the Conference. Topics discussed included technology, best practices in serving victims of sex trafficking, using data in decision making and avoiding common pitfalls.
Laura praised the Conference stating, “The Conference was such a great opportunity and a whirlwind experience. It is always great to talk to people that speak the same language and are as excited about connecting people in need to information and resources that can help them.”