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SSTAR Excels: Investing in a Work-Based Learning Approach to Professional Development

Kimberly R. Rogers and Stacey Wagner

Stanley Street Treatment and Resources (SSTAR), a nonprofit behavioral and mental health agency with facilities in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, has faced challenges in supporting staff aspirations and meeting client needs, despite a reputation for delivering high-quality programs and services. Through its participation in Jobs to Careers, a national initiative that helps health care providers promote workers’ skills and advance their careers, SSTAR has increased its number of certified addiction counselors, enabling more patients to be treated.

As its frontline workers moved through the Jobs to Careers program and earned certifications in addictions counseling, the agency became a more competitive business: costs went down while revenue and service quality rose. SSTAR also attracted new talent and improved its record of retaining valued employees. The Jobs to Careers work-based learning model enabled SSTAR to increase employees’ earnings and decrease the client-counselor ratio, both indicators of improved quality. 

SSTAR Excels captures how patient care can be boosted through cutting-edge professional development and may be a model for other addictions treatment facilities as they move toward serving clients through research-informed strategies and innovations proven in practice.