NCDA Plays Key Role in Delivering CDF Training to Persons who Work with Offenders

by JoAnn Harris-Bowlsbey

The Career Development Facilitator (CDF) curriculum, originally funded by the National Occupational Information Coordinating Committee (NOICC), has been used as a basis for training paraprofessionals in the career development field since its initial release in the early 90's. Several different versions of the curriculum, which addresses 12 basic competencies needed by paraprofessionals, have been developed and approved by the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE), an entity related to the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). These various versions of the curriculum have been used to train thousands of career development facilitators in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan.

One significant modification of the curriculum, funded by the National Institute of Corrections (NIC), is being used to train staff and community collaborators who work with offenders. There is considerable evidence that finding and keeping a job that relates to personal interests and skills is highly related to being able to stay out of prison. In other words, good job placement reduces recidivism significantly. For that reason, the NIC has great interest in training staff and persons from collaborative agencies who work with offenders as they transition from prison to the free world so that career planning and job placement services can be as beneficial as limited resources allow. The training is offered as three 36-hour weeks of face-to-face training, each separated by one month at home base. During the one-month intervals between weeks of training, participants practice the skills learned in the previous week of training through targeted assignments accompanied by journaling.

Once the CDF curriculum was expanded and modified for use with this population by NCDA members JoAnn Harris-Bowlsbey, David Reile, and Barbara Suddarth, the NIC contracted with NCDA to handle the logistics of providing training on an ongoing basis to state teams which pass stringent selection requirements. The logistics include selecting hotel sites for the three-week training sessions, contracting with qualified instructors to deliver the training, running the day-to-day on-site operation, receiving and screening applications from state teams, and archiving and updating the curriculum package.

Persons who successfully complete the curriculum are called Offender Workforce Development Specialists (OWDS) in the corrections system, and they may apply for certification through CCE as Career Development Facilitators. In some ways, the OWDS curriculum is more intense than other versions of the CDF curriculum. There is a pre- and post-test, and participants must pass the post-test at a specified level. Between-week assignments require a large commitment of time, and they are reviewed by trainers for quality. State teams must develop a detailed plan to provide parts of the training to other staff members and collaborators after completion of the training.

After two years of providing this curriculum at the national level, the NIC is now planning the training of additional instructors who know both the curriculum and the corrections setting so that the curriculum can be released to states for their use. Further, the lecturettes related to some competencies will be placed on video this spring and some modules will be enhanced by the development of web-based counterparts.

In summary, the development and delivery of training for Offender Workforce Development Specialists has been a very positive experience for both the National Institute of Corrections and NCDA.

In honor of NCDA's 100th anniversary, Career Convergence is publishing articles of historical significance. This article and bio are reprinted from our debut issue in 2003.

JoAnn Bowlsbey, Ed.D, is a member of NCDA's Board of Trustees and representative to the American Counseling Association's Governing Council. Presently she is Adjunct Professor, Counselor Education, Loyola College, Maryland as well as Career Development Consultant, Nippon Manpower Ltd, Tokyo, Japan.
Her long list of accomplishments includes: consultant to the National Institute of Corrections and numerous other groups; author of several books on career planning; past-president of NCDA; winner of NCDA's Eminent Career Award; creator of the DISCOVER computerized guidance program; and high school guidance director.
She can be reached at

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Laura M.   on Tuesday 07/02/2013 at 09:18 AM

I am very interested in this training as I work with ex-offenders and even provide workshops at FCI Bastrop.

Steven Heugel   on Tuesday 07/02/2013 at 12:45 PM

Good Day: As an OWDS and GCDF, I'd be very interested in assisting with the training aspect of this project. Please contact me as soon as possible to discuss this further, thank you. 440-284-1818-days.

p.s. I am out of the office July 4th through the 15th.

Sandy Borum   on Monday 08/01/2016 at 04:01 PM

I am interested in the training. I work with those currently incarcerated at the Vista Detention Facility and ex-offenders as a Vocational Development Specialist.
I have completed the CDF training as well. I'm interested in adding this component to my credentials.

steven heugel   on Monday 08/01/2016 at 04:24 PM

Hello I responded to this back in 2013, but had not heard anything back, is this still viable?, thank you.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the comments shown above are those of the individual comment authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of this organization.