Instructions: A customer makes an appointment with you to find work. The individual needs assistance with housing and meals.
Answer these questions:
1. To whom in your local area do you refer them for this assistance?
2. What techniques have you found especially helpful to use in an intake interview to discover barriers that a customer might be facing? Describe 1-2 techniques you use that work well for you.
Make one original post and then respond to 1 team member’s post. You will make a total of two posts. For your original post, responds in a paragraph or two for the 2 questions. For your 2nd post, respond in several sentences.
Remember that our learning group works in a full value environment: We treat our colleagues with respect and professionalism. Our comments should reflect this culture.
14 thoughts on “Career Development Forum – Cohort 2”
Depending on my customers they are either referred to the Fatherhood initiative or the Women’s Center. Both of these agencies provide various types of assistance depending on the need of the customers. Many of the customers will find the agencies extremely helpful when they are looking for additional resources. The Women’s Center helps clients that need counseling and job search guidance they are similar to Workforce in that they help the customers from the beginning of job search to entered employment and they also follow up with post employment options.
The techniques that I use when working with all clients is primarily to ask open ended questions. This gives the customers an opportunity to talk about what ever is on there minds. It is a joint venture so whatever is on a service plan to get done it is done by the customer and myself to make sure that the customers understands that what is being spelled out is something that they will be completing. We also talk about Generations in the workplace because the majority of my customers have been in the workforce and are competing with multiple people from different age groups. I let them know that the experience most of the time will be more important than a persons age. Having said that I also make sure that they understand that they need to have current skills to be competitive in the workforce.
My program is fortunate to have a partner that specializes in food assistance and has been spearheading numerous food distribution events since the pandemic started. This is where I would refer someone who is in need of food. For housing, I would refer them to a local shelter or church. Recently, some local cities have also opened their Section 8 applications. I encourage anybody I work with who has unstable housing to apply and assist them with the application.
As I have been developing my program, I have also been asset mapping. I am developing a Google map where I pinpoint different community based organizations who provide a variety of services including housing and meals. The goal is to have the map available on our website and because it is a Google map, all someone has to do is put in their address to get directions to an agency for assistance. They can do this on their own, or a staff member can also assist to find these services. On our intake questionnaire, we avoid using words like “barriers” with our clients. We try to take a more needs-based and strengths-based approach in our line of questions. We ask, “what do you need?” rather than identify what their deficits are. Asking an open ended question like “tell me about yourself” can also reveal needs, barriers, and strengths in the answer.
That’s great that you guys partner with a local food distribution. Our district does a food bank drive and each office donates to their local food bank during the holidays. I like how your intake focuses on a strengths based approached and understand how the word “barriers” may seem negative to someone. I may switch my barrier question, which they always freeze up on, to more what do you need, or what support do you need from me in XYZ. Good stuff Esther!
Clarence, let’s talk about it. It is relatively easy. I figured it out by trial and error.
Esther – I would like to learn more about your Google map approach – seems easy and inexpensive to do and also flexible.
Our county has a wonderful 211 system, as well as a document they update twice a year on local community resources. (https://humboldtgov.org/DocumentCenter/View/54880/Humboldt-Community-Resource-List-PDF?bidId) But, I am familiar with many places for housing and meal assistance. One is our local Food Bank, Food for People. There is also the St. Vincent DePaul kitchen which does breakfast and dinner daily. Then, there are various establishments, usually churches, that also hand out free food on a weekly basis. We also have the Betty Chin Center, Humboldt Senior Resource Center and the Rescue Mission that can assist with both housing and meal assistance.
Resources specifically for housing include our Arcata Housing Partnership, City of Eureka Uplift program, Area 1 Agency on Aging, Humboldt Housing Authority and Redwood Coast Action Agency. These are just ones off the top of my head and would refer them to the Humboldt County Resource Document for more assistance. Of course, we also have our Dept. of Health and Human Services that assists in both those areas, as well as our local Veterans Center.
When clients come to DOR, they do an intake with a Vocational Counselor and they address barriers like these. Also, on their application and during orientation we highlight these areas so they are prepared to discuss them during their intake. So, there are set questions to ask during interviews with them. Another technique is to follow up with them. If they get referred to me, I tend to have candid conversations with my clients and they open up, sometimes sharing barriers that weren’t addressed in their original intake. I think this occurs, as the intake is more structured with set questions, where, while I do have set questions, I tend to converse more freely and ask follow-up questions. These are important as a Business Specialist, as I’m vested in my clients gaining employment and being aware of barriers and possibly why they weren’t addressed initially can be concerning.
211 is always a great resource to refer to. The LA (https://www.211la.org/) and Orange County (https://www.211oc.org/) 211 sites are pretty comprehensive, and just like Humboldt County, they make a point to keep it updated regularly. There is so much information on the 211 websites, I have found myself helping individuals navigate the website in the past. Other than DOR and the Regional Center, are there sufficient resources available for individuals with disabilities? I tend to see a lot of resources for housing, food, and jobs, but not much specifically individuals with disabilities. Has this been a challenge with those you assist?
It is important, as you noted, in your role to build those trusting relationships so that when the client has employment challenges they are open enough to talk to you first. I would always say, call me and lets talk it out before you make a decision that does not serve your purpose and goal. You need to be skilled to make those intake forms seem more personable so GREAT JOB!
During the first three weeks of programming( 6 months to 1 year total), we invite various agencies in to provide educational presentations to our participants. These often include Healthy Eating Habits, Better Money Habits, Financial planning, etc. These presentations in conjunction with trust building and discussions through Working Smart Soft Skills Curriculum, often lead participants to share information with us directly and then we can connect accordingly to majority in-house services: housing, counseling, financial planning, legal advice, etc.
Being that we are local government, we stay away from falling into the social services category, so we make referrals when needed from a long list of community partners that we have established. This partner list provides a soft connection as opposed to a hard hand-off.
Techniques I find to work best in my current role are taking time to get to know clients, observe them and ask open ended questions in the most natural way. Almost like covert investigation on my part but it flows well and allows for one-on-one follow ups later to ensure participant needs are being addressed.
Hayley, I really like that you took a holistic approach to educate your clients through speakers. Especially the healthy eating habits, it is well known that if families don’t have healthy well-rounded nutrition it affects their learning capabilities and thus the training through your program. And the other topics such as money and financial planning also affects the function of relationship dynamics. I love your open-ended question approach because the client doesn’t feel grilled.
I like your approach as I have discovered that getting a job is only the beginning of a long road to self sufficiency. Teaching life skills such as eating healthy, budgeting, soft skills are key to not only keeping a job but also allows the client to move on to better employment and quality of life.
One of the challenging things about referring someone to an outside resource is that there is no guarantee the client is going to actually access the service. Especially if the service they need is across town and transportation is a barrier. I have mitigated this in a couple of different ways: first, you want to be familiar with the location of the agencies you are referring clients to. You need to know exactly where they are located, cross streets, closest bus stop, and have a direct contact you can follow up with or give a heads up that you are referring a client. If you have never been there, then it is not reasonable to expect our clients to go either. Second, I am a fan of co-location because it makes accessing services easier if those agencies are able to provide services at your location and vice-versa. Usually, this requires some type of MOU or facilities usage agreement, depending upon the agencies. I have had outside agencies have “office hours” at our location because they can only send a staff maybe once a week. This allows for different agencies to rotate on a schedule and everyone knows which agency is here on which day. This can help ensure that clients are accessing services in a timely manner and transportation may no longer be an issue.
Luckily we have a partner agency, Labor Community Services in our building that has a food pantry and they also distribute grocery cards for other staples that we refer our clients to. As far as rental the partner agency has rental assistance funds if they cannot help, they would then refer them to 211LA Services.
In order to find out what special needs clients have we ask questions about this on the intake first. Secondly, we have our program coordinator inquire about their needs as they begin to check-in with clients and draw out additional information on barriers that may be holding them back. Also, we check back in with the partner who referred them that may have a record of medication, rehab, or other barriers they did not directly disclose.
Typically we would customers to Salvation Army for both food and housing, 2 local churches with soup kitchens, and if all else fails, United Way runs the 211 line where can get immediate assistance after diagnose the issue.
After getting the initial contact and demographic information, I have found that open ended questions allows the client to be more comfortable as they can respond to what they want to share or not share. Listening and taking interest in them as a person is also very helpful and not treating them as just another number or not being friendly.