Career Development Forum – Cohort 4

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.

42 thoughts on “Career Development Forum – Cohort 4”

  1. Tracy Forbush says:

    Because our agency has emergency assistance services and a food pantry, these 2 particular needs can be served through internal referrals. If, for some reason, they are not eligible for those internal services, we can refer them to the Salvation Army, United Way hotline, or one of the other many social service agencies that our Family Support Center staff have built relationships with in the community. We serve 21 counties through 9 different locations and 2 mobile resource buses, so each site has their own community relationships that we can leverage in the event that we cannot meet the needs of our clients.
    We have a pretty lengthy screening tool that we use to evaluate if someone is stable enough to participate in our St. Rita program specifically. The screening tool covers everything from basic demographics, budget review, legal, health, housing, education, etc. After completing this screening tool, we can typically assess what major barriers may need to be addressed in order to help a client be successful on their career path. If, upon completion of that screening tool, we find that hey need more targeted services in other areas in order to become stable enough to pursue higher education or a major career shift, we would provide appropriate referrals that would help them prepare for our program.

    1. Jahmiel McBride says:

      It is great that you can offer both housing and food assistance to your clients internally. If eligible, your customers can receive a summary of how your program would help them. If their ineligible, you can provide advice on what options they have and refer them to other organizations who would best suit them. Either way, you are providing hope by listening and reflecting what you gathered during the intake interview. Establishing a good rapport with clients we cannot help is just as important as with the ones who benefit from our services, because your reputation travels faster than we do.

    2. William McIntyre says:

      It is awesome that your organization has a comprehensive approach to addressing needs. You have a true one stop. The breath and depth of your reach ensures individuals and families needs are met. We applaud you for the hard work you do daily. Continue carrying the torch and being the gateway of hope for the people you serve.

  2. Jahmiel McBride says:

    To meet the customer’s need for food, I would refer them to the Department of Social Services’ Emergency Food Assistance Program. Food is provided from over 30 local community pantries and shelters free of charge. The customer would need to contact a case worker to make an appointment. With their photo identification and their unemployment notice they would be able to get food from the many resources available. If the customer has a means of transportation, I will also refer them local churches and community centers in the area. Churches have been providing food from the Capital Area Food Bank via curbside pick-up since the pandemic started. For housing, I would refer them to the Housing Authority of Prince George’s County. The Housing Authority offers housing for the disabled, elderly, and has at least 80 units for families. The Department of Social Services also offers homelessness assistance, where the customer can see if they are eligible to receive financial help to pay rent or mortgage.

    A person in this situation may feel a great deal of hopelessness. I would normalize the issue first to let the customer know that they are not alone. I would like to ensure them that there are people and programs available to assist them, and if they are willing to put in the work that their circumstances can change over time. Once we have established a relationship, I would use affirmations to encourage them to continue to make positive steps towards their goals.

    1. Clark Davis says:

      Normalization is so crucial to the whole process! I feel like sometimes it can be an ignored tool to those who do not practice empathy on a regular basis. I also really like the fact that you emphasize that the participants do have an active role in their own situation, even though it might seem bleak at the moment. It’s so important to empower your clients into knowing that they do have the ability to create change in their lives when things seem so out of control. That can take them so far!

    2. Sarah Brown says:

      I very much appreciate that you focus on building a rapport with your clients, normalizing the process of asking for or receiving assistance. Because most people project a better picture than what they themselves may be experiencing, it easy for individuals who may be struggling to get their needs met to feel both helpless and hopeless. Providing resources and using affirmations to encouraging your clients’ pursuit of self-sufficiency and sustainability is a great way to help them build confidence as well as maintain the forward momentum needed to meet their present and future goals.

  3. Christi Goni says:

    Our agency has fostered strong relationships with local partner agencies so that referrals can be made for services that we are unable to provide such as housing and food assistance. Prior to the pandemic, we initiated “Fusion Friday” events which had one partner agency a month hosting a meet and greet event in the morning before business hours. It was an opportunity for agencies to learn more about the services we each offered and to network among staff to make referrals more effective and less difficult for clients seeking assistance.
    JTC is in a rural county so the services available are more limited than what larger counties can offer. However, we are also serving a smaller population so it all evens out in the end. We do have the United Way’s online tool available in Tehama and surrounding counties but whenever possible I do the research for the customer to make the process of finding services faster and less challenging for them. For food and housing assistance I refer individuals to:
    • Salvation Army
    • Community Action Agency
    • Social Services
    • P.A.T.H. Tehama County Coalition
    • Local Food Banks
    o Tehama County Gleaners
    o Corning Christian Assistance
    o Food for the Hungry
    o Harvest Christian Center
    o Rancho Tehama Community Church

    During intake interviews I adjust my approach depending on the individual I am speaking with and how they are responding to me over all. When specifically trying to discover the barriers and challenges an individual may be facing I find that open ended questions are very useful. I then clarify their answers with close ended questions to be sure that I am fully understanding what they have shared. Reflecting is also extremely useful in clarifying an individual’s answers, however that is a skill that I am still working on improving.

    Encouraging is also a technique that works very well for me and is something that comes naturally. It is probably so effective because I don’t have to think about using it. Being able to really listen to a client and encourage them to continue sharing helps immensely when trying to gather important information so that I can provide the most effective assistance.

    1. Tracy Forbush says:

      I love that “Fusion Friday” idea! I think that our agency often tries to be the end-all, be-all and we do so much. But because of that, we often are spread too thin. And though we do have other agencies we can refer to, it does seem like a clunky and sometimes inefficient/unsuccessful flow of services. If we could form more cohesion and cooperation with our partners, this referral process would be much smoother.

    2. Renee Brooks says:

      I like the aspect of adjusting yourself for approach customer because each customer should be handled differently. I use open ended questions as well because they may have to think more about the answers and provide more truthful answers. Encouraging customers customer is part of solution focus you make the entire session about the customer and their needs. Trying to focus solely on the customer they will eventually start to warm up to the interviewer and you will be able to assess them with easily and comfort.

    3. La-Toya Jones says:

      I love the idea of the Fusion Friday’s as well. It is a great way for the partners to meet, network and update each other on the happenings of their organization. It is also a fun way of doing this, what a great idea. Not all of my partner sites have this type of partner meeting, but one of my sites does and we find it very beneficial. I am glad that you have a wide range of resources in your county that you can refer your clients. Lastly your interview techniques are spot on!

    4. Yassin Kargbo says:

      Wow having all these partnership with all these induvial organizations can really help reach a vast portion of the community. Working for the library we hope to build more relationships and partnerships with local organizations so we can extend our services throw-out the county and provide our customers with more options for needed assistance.

    5. Shandra Womack says:

      I truly appreciate and love the Fusion Friday idea. Fusion Friday sounds like a similar partnership that my company currently shares with the Mayor’s Office of Employment. We have monthly meetings with all local agencies. During this monthly meeting, we discuss updates, new partnerships, any issues, questions or concern, and open topics. Our monthly meeting are designed to be a support system to the providers.

  4. William McIntyre says:

    In the District of Columbia, if a person walks into our facilitate with a need for housing and food we would aid them in contacting DC Emergency Hotline (Homeless Adults) at (202) 399-7093, 1-(800) 535-7252 (Hotline) or Mayor’s Call Center at 311. The Program Manager is Ericka Ransom. The Hotline maintains hourly tally of DC shelter beds available for homeless individuals and families. The will provides transportation, information and referral services- food and shelter. Individuals and/or families who need transportation assistance getting to a shelter or day-program should call the above phone number.

    Shelter Transportation is provided daily (6:30am to 8:15am and 6:15pm to 6:30pm), to take homeless adults and families to and from shelter and day program. Residents are encouraged to attend day programs where they can receive services and work on more stable housing. Day programs provide food, comfort, and other life skills support. For unscheduled pick-up call: 1-(800) 535-7252. Daily pick-up and drop-off locations:
    9th and G Streets, NW (MLK Library), North Capitol & Mass NE (Union Station), 16th & Park Road, NW (Sacred Heart Church), and North Capitol & NY Ave NE (Covenant House)

    During the interview, we ask a combination of open and closed questions using Solution Focus techniques. For instance, using scaling the individuals issue and/or feelings, miracle questioning, complimenting and exception finding allows the case manager to probe deeper without being insensitive. Therefore, a level of empathy and active listening must be used to build trust.

  5. Clark Davis says:

    At my place of work, we constantly refer our members to either internal or external resources, depending on their specific needs. If a person mentions that they are in need of housing or meals, for example, we can refer them to one of several local organizations; for example, there are many food cupboards and churches in the area that will provide them with about one week’s worth of food per month. Some of these food cupboards as well as some other local nonprofit organizations can assist with different forms of housing relief, too. We work very closely with Kennett Area Community Services, which is a nonprofit food pantry that helps its participants apply for LIHEAP. If they do not qualify for LIHEAP, or that program is not open yet, KACS can help by paying one month’s electric bill. In dire situations, they can pay for up to two weeks at a time of emergency lodging at local motels. In cases of immediate or impending homelessness, we typically reach out to organizations like KACS, Family Promise, Home of the Sparrow, His Mission Shelter for Men, or our local Domestic Violence Center. If these resources are exhausted or unavailable, my organization is able to pay for one month’s rent for families or individuals, thanks to a very generous donation by a philanthropic family that lives in the area.

    When I am getting to know a client for the first time, I try first and foremost to ensure that they know they are in a warm, welcoming, and environment where their wants and needs are priority. My goal is for them to feel comfortable enough that they can open up to me so that we can really get to the root of their troubles, whether this takes place in our first session or later down the road. Then, I use our specific intake forms to familiarize myself with the client and their specific case as best as I can. As the member and I are interacting, I employ “active listening” to really show that I am invested and can add questions that may otherwise seem uncomfortable or unrelated, but equally important. For example, talking about potential work hours can lead to a conversation about childcare, which can then eventually lead me to schedule them for another appointment with my team to apply for SNAP benefits for their children.

  6. Renee Brooks says:

    A customer comes into the agency for housing and food assistance. I would give them the number for Virginia Williams Center and homeless hotline referral center for assistance. I well as numbers for them to call Bread for the City, DC area food bank, faith base organizations food pantry and any other resources that I may obtain at the present time.
    We use an orientation package that will ask certain questions about their barriers at that point is when the barriers are discovered. We can refer the customer back to the Department of Human Services to assist with most of their barriers due to the fact that we are a Welfare to Work program and customer should have addressed some barriers before being referred to our agency. We can also refer customer to varies agencies to assist with their barriers as well, some customers have at least two different case managers so their barriers will be addressed at different levels.

  7. Brittany Switzer says:

    In Washington DC, there are a number of places in which a customer can receive meal assistance. Martha’s Table is a resource, which is often used. Additionally there are food banks such as Capital Area Food Bank. In addition, there are other resources such as Dc Central Kitchen, United Planning Organization, Bread for the City, etc. In regards to housing, there are currently not as many resources. Virginia Williams Family Resource Center is the first place customers usually are referred. However, sometimes they have no available space. In some instance, DC government will assist a family by paying them to live with a family member, until they are able to find affordable housing. Assessments are a great way to discover barriers a customer might be facing. Most times, we think of assessments as being used to determine a customer’s skill level. However, my office currently uses a paper assessment which specifically lists questions in regards to potential barriers such as housing, transportation, etc. After the customer completes the assessment, I think it is beneficial to use motivational interviewing. This gives the customer the idea that we as professionals respect them, and can help them feel comfortable discussing their barriers.

    1. Zachary A Jones says:

      That is great that your organization is taking the time out to identify the barriers that an individual faces before moving on to any other service. Being able to be transparent with a person upfront can create a healthy space for them to address their barriers. The idea that you give people empathy, understanding, and respect can make for an easy road in helping the individual. I didn’t even know that DC pays an individual to live with a family member when faced with hardship.

    2. Jaleen Walker says:

      Brittany, I love the vast amount of food resources that Washington, DC, provides to the community. I know that housing is probably a huge issue. The city has undergone demographic changes, and the price of housing has skyrocketed. It amazed me when I moved to the DMV area how much of a financial disparity existed in the city. You have wealthy people and those who are struggling financially. The significant amount of food resources helps to fill some of those GAPS. I love what Martha’s Table does for the community. My best friend works for them, and I was amazed at how much they did during this Covid 19 pandemic to ensure that families were fed. It is great that your organizational takes the time to look deeper into the basic needs that the customers have that would prevent them from focusing on their knowledge, skills and abilities.

  8. La-Toya Jones says:

    Since my organization works within Prince George’s County Public Schools, we work with the school system, Department of Social Services and any of our other community partners to provide referrals and resources. These partnerships support us in managing and guiding students/families to the appropriate resources that will facilitate wrap around services and resources.

    Out intake interview is all encompassing of youth, parents and the school staff. They have to complete an enrollment packet that asks various questions, along with authorization of consent forms to gather information from the schools we partner with through out the county. With this being said the techniques that I have found useful during our intake is having an in person intake meeting. Through this meeting I am able to give thorough details about the program expectations. This supports the youth and their parent(s)/guardian(s) to open up and ask questions that they may not otherwise ask; especially if the intake forms are sent home. The documentation also allows me to get a better understanding of where the student is at academically and their literacy levels. Which also leads to academic resources that are offered through us and the county. Majority of the intake questions/interview, incorporate questions that will give the staff and better knowledge of the barriers that these students and their families are facing. This makes it easier to ask questions in a sensitive manner, because they are already offered within the enrollment packet. With this pre knowledge, we are able to get a head start in partnerships within the school and county to help our students and their families as soon as we can.

  9. Zach Jones says:

    If I was to refer someone in need of assistance in regards to food or housing I would direct them to the county’s Department of Social Service. Here you can apply for Food Supplement programs offered by the county,state, and federally through the USDA. Along with these options there are numerous non profits, food pantries, churches, and community institutions that offer food assistance.In the means of aiding in housing I would refer an individual to the County’s Housing Authority. They can aid with renters assistance, legal aid with landlords, and housing vouchers.
    Working in a library I generally see all walks of life. Some individuals’ barriers are more apparent than others. Being able to identify such barriers and being able to empathize are the more important actions of a librarian.In performing any type of aid of service we must understand Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. These needs are physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization. Life necessities are key to physiological which is foundation to all other aspects.So I think fostering healthy conversation and maybe not approaching so strongly about the career service that you offer initially. Allow the individual to express what they need and work from that direction.Build so they can overcome the barriers, so receiving the career service is a part of their upward journey. By covering the foundational needs you can create a space for improvement in the other aspects. The level of comfort a person has with you will dictate the level of effective service you can offer them.

    1. ahernandez says:

      Knowing where to refer others in their time of need feels great when you are able to guide them to the correct resources. I agree with you about creating healthy conversation where they can express their needs is important. When I first started I noticed it could be intimidating to approach the individual with all the services that are available. Actively listening to their needs can help you give them options of what their next steps can be. Once they are comfortable and notice you are there to help, I have noticed that they are more responsive to our guidance.

    2. Jaleen Walker says:

      Working in libraries is more connected to social services and workforce development than most people realize. The way you spoke of meeting foundational needs resonated loudly with me because it is in those areas that we begin the work of helping our clients succeed. We have learned over the years as we started providing summer meals, access to wifi, an open invitation for our displaced citizens, and in many cases, a place for child care providers to service children- we are essential. We are no longer just a place for people to receive books and attend storytimes for children- we are hubs for community needs and services. We have some great strides ahead, but now that we have the assessment tools and skilled approaches, we can provide an even greater impact.

  10. ahernandez says:

    If an individual I met with has other needs to be met after a quick background review, our organization works closely with local partners to meet their needs. A great reference to call or visit online is 211 Tehama County. It is a huge directory of all resources available in Tehama County. You can click on the icon that best meets your needs. After determining where in the county they reside I will direct them to the closest food shelter to them. A few local places are: Tehama County Gleaners, Food for the Hungry, WIC, Salt Ranch (free meals), Department of Social Services (Calfresh).
    There were a lot of housing services available in our rural area depending on the background. There are shelters for the homeless, transitional housing for foster youth, domestic violence victims shelter and other low income based housing that is available. In each area depending on the housing situation there are other resources that they can possibly help the individual. Depending on the needs of the individual I would give them the following references; GNRM, P.A.T.H, Empower Tehama, Homes of Hope, and Children First Foster Family.

    When working with clients that have barriers they seem to have less trust with people. I like to work backwards you can say. Instead of simply asking them questions about why they are there I ask more questions about them. I try to build the trust and rapport before asking all these personal questions. I try to help them understand that they are not the only ones going through a difficult time and that there are resources to help. Then I like to ask open ended questions about some of the services that are offered and change them to closed ended questions once we start to target any barriers that could hinder them from being successful at work.

    1. Nikiesha Virgil says:

      Yes, I do find that building trust and rapport with a clients is extremely essential to getting them to open up about their barriers. More trusting clients offer information to help you identify those barriers right away. Other clients who are more closed don’t reveal them until they feel safe with telling you their private information. Sometimes you don’t get all the pieces of the puzzle. This happened to me quite recently with a client who I worked with for several months. I agree with Sarah’s comments (below) about the client’s need to understand whether something is pertinent to them and to the help we can give. Clients share more when they believe that you are non-judgmental and you can help them.

  11. Yassin Kargbo says:

    When an individual needs assistance with housing and meal I would refer them to
    the Department of Social Services’ Emergency Food Assistance Program where they can receive donated food based on the area that the individual resides in. They will get a listing of pantries and soup kitchens that is closest to them. All food is free of charge to eligible individuals and families. I would also refer the individuals to local food banks in the area that provide free food to individuals with no questions asked and strictly based on an honor system.
    When an individual needs assistance with housing I would refer them to The Housing Authority of Prince George’s County, Maryland (“HAPGC”) charged with providing housing assistance services to eligible individuals and families in the county.

    Applying the Johari Window Model will help me conduct better intake interviews. By getting a customer who needs help finding a job to open up more to me also helps open up hidden and unknown areas that may qualify a customer for a specific job or require them to improve on a specific skill. I plan on conducting intake interviews that will help me with my day-to-day customers who I have already developed trust and long term relationships with to better serve their needs. Using these techniques will help me be more effective with my customer service and refer them to the right resources in an efficient manner. Identifying customers’ needs, strengths and barriers will help me suggest resources that the client may not be aware of are offered at the library as well as more individualized assistance.

    1. Serena Mosteller says:

      Although my agency is not in Prince George’s County, we are not far from yours and seem to follow a similar model. We are located in the District of Columbia and also receive clients from the Department of Social Services.

      I like your application of the Johari Window Model and will also try to utilize that method for more effective interactions with my customers. It has been my experience that customer share different things with different staff. They might work with a case manager for months and never disclose a bit of information that our Employment Specialist or Job Developer may discover on their first meeting. Moving forward, I definitely intend to expand/improve my interviewing techniques to maximize my rapport with my customers ultimately rendering the best services possible.

  12. Aaron Leson says:

    Very good work to those who have posted to this point. Nicely done. Thank you for your dedication and hard work. We truly appreciate you and value what you do.

  13. Sarah Brown says:

    For addressing the need for food, I would first refer to the Department of Human Services, for Food Assistance/SNAP Benefits. Because emergency services are not always granted, I would also provide the individual with our resource guide, which includes information about food pantries offered through other community resources (Catholic Charities for daily hot meals, Springs Food Pantry, and a multitude of other church-sponsored organizations). For clients enrolled in our grant programs, I have the ability to provide a one-time supportive service voucher to a local grocery store, for the purchase of food items.

    Resources pertaining to housing are dependent on the client’s individual needs. Affordable Housing can be found through the Colorado Springs Housing Authority, Greccio Housing, Partners in Housing. Rental Assistance can be provided through Ecumenical Social Ministries, Westside Cares, Eastern El Paso County Community Center, Rocky Mountain Human Services, Salvation Army, and Silver Key. Emergency Housing/Shelters are offered through The Place (for teens and young adults), Tessa (survivors of domestic violence), Salvation Army (transitional housing), Springs Rescue Mission, and New Promise (family shelter). These resources are provided in addition to the local church-affiliated organizations, and can all be found in the aforementioned resource guide. Clients must exhaust these resources before I can offer a one-time rental assistance payment through my organization’s supportive service grant funding.

    In my position and the way our organization is set up, I receive a client’s completed application which specifically addresses needs and/or potential barriers to employment. By the time I’ve gotten their file, they have been found eligible for one of our grants and are eligible for supportive service (my role is to conduct the suitability assessment, enrollment, and case management services). In the initial assessment appointment, I share that we have funding to assist with supportive services (i.e., gas cards, bus passes, clothing for interviews/work, potential food, and housing expenses), and find that clients are more apt to share their needs. I feel that clients are unwilling to share what they don’t believe to be pertinent to the issue at hand and it’s my job to show how one impacts the other and thus mitigate the concerns.

    1. Brittany Switzer says:

      It seems like you are able to provide many housing resources, but I also think it is great your organization can obtain funds to provide rental assistance if needed. Also, it is very important you noted you must help the client see how the it is most beneficial for them to provide information in regards to all of their needs, not just one specifically.

    2. Benjamin Gaskin says:

      Sarah, that is a very true statement in regard to how one issue may impact another. Many times customers’ may not realize the connections. Getting them to understand the impact I believe creates a much better rapport. Establishing this kind of connectivity between customers can be very useful for future follow up and helping the get employed.

  14. Nikiesha Virgil says:

    The Emergency Assistance Unit in my agency handles emergency requests for housing. So clients are internally referred. The clients are them housed for a short-term stay at a hotel/motel which could spend a couple of days to two weeks. During the pandemic these stays have been longer. The client’s resources and needs are assessed and in many cases referrals for assistance are then made to transitional housing such as House of Mercy, shelters, and to Salvation Army. Meals are provided by referral to several community agencies, churches, and local foodbanks. In my program, we are able to even collect and distribute meals to our clients 😊.

    We don’t use a specific screening tool to identify barriers to employment. By the time clients have agreed to participate in our program they would have already been screened by Emergency Assistance, Social Workers, or Care Team Workers so we have a fair idea of the client’s barriers. There is a warm handoff to our program so the individual starts to feel comfortable working with us. As we develop a relationship with our client, in our second sometimes even third meeting (the first meeting is with the referral source) we begin to delve into discovering any other barriers specifically related to employment the individual may have we have a conversation about disabilities, medical or physical problems, mental health issues, trauma, criminal history, transportation issues, childcare ect

    1. Christi Goni says:

      It’s wonderful that your agency is able to handle emergency requests for housing internally. The need for emergency shelter and housing seems to be growing drastically across the country, especially with the pandemic, and far too often agencies are unable to provide the services necessary due to lack of resources/funding. The fact that your program is able to do that as well as collect and distribute meals is fantastic!

    2. Shawnda Walker says:

      My program is very similar because our customers are also prescreened and referred to us before we meet them. I also agree that developing a trusting relationship is the first step before discovering any other barriers. Fortunately, you can go straight to assisting them since they are prescreened.

  15. Serena Mosteller says:

    Virginia Williams is our primary resource for housing assistance. They provide housing counselors and a myriad of other resources. Regarding meals, my agency maintains a list of resources which includes food pantries to refer the customer to.

    After greeting the customer and introducing myself, I explain the services that our program offers and how the process works. I review the intake sheet previously given to the customer to establish rapport. One technique that I use is questioning as I ask open-ended questions. I also use the technique of reflecting to reinforce what the customer has shared and to demonstrate that I am listening intently. Both questioning and reflecting work well for me.

  16. Shandra Womack says:

    I would refer the person to the Department of Social Services. This government agency is able to assistance people with cash assistance (temporary cash), food assistance (food stamps), child-care assistance (vouchers for child care givers), transportation assistance (bus pass and/or vehicles for change), employment assistance (refer to work program of choice) and emergency assistance (Gas and Electric Turn-off notice, Eviction Notice, no food, etc.). Once the person has been approved for assistance, they will be referred to the work program. This is when I’m able to assist the customer with training of interested trade, continuing education (getting GED or college), and over-coming any barriers. If the customer becomes homeless while attending work program, our program has partnerships with other agencies (food pantries and shelters). We are able to refer the customer to needed program(s) for assistance. Due the pandemic, some agencies are currently unavailable.

    To identify the customers current barriers. I would start from the beginning and revisit some helping relationship techniques from chapter one. By this time, I’ve built a trustworthy relationship with the customer. I would assist the customer with identifying his or her current needs, strengths, and barriers. The customer and I would complete this assessment with a list of open-ended and closed-ended questions that will provide necessary information to assist customer with current barriers. Once assessment is completed, I would assist the customer with creating new goals and steps as to how to achieve them.

  17. Shawnda Walker says:

    If a customer needs assistance with housing, we refer them to the Department of Social Services first. If they have already exhausted that possibility, we provide the customers with a list of shelters and food pantries. If they have a phone and transportation, they can contact the places on their own. If they do not have phone access, the career agent will assist them in making their calls.

    Our customers are referred by the Department of Social Services. When they come in, they complete a referral packet that prescreens them for demographics, skills, education, barriers, etc. Once the paperwork is completed, I use active listening and open ended questions to determine the workforce wants and needs. This allows me to point them in the right direction towards training or hiring employers. If it is employment, we focus on trying to improve their barriers if possible and offer soft skills as needed.

    1. Eboni Young says:

      We service the same population and find the local social service offices are overwhelmed with housing request. I applaud you career agents for assisting with the phone calls to the shelters. I believe those actions provide a sense of trust from the clients because your team is seeking the housing with them.

  18. Jaleen Walker says:

    Working in libraries is more connected to social services and workforce development than most people realize. The way you spoke of meeting foundational needs resonated loudly with me because it is in those areas that we begin the work of helping our clients succeed. We have learned over the years as we started providing summer meals, access to wifi, an open invitation for our displaced citizens, and in many cases, a place for child care providers to service children- we are essential. We are no longer just a place for people to receive books and attend storytimes for children- we are hubs for community needs and services. We have some great strides ahead, but now that we have the assessment tools and skilled approaches, we can provide an even greater impact.

  19. Jaleen Walker says:

    In the capacity of my job, I do not make referrals but as a former social worker it was priority for me. Before you help a client achieve goals such as work or training—basic needs must be met. Some if I had to I would survey the community resources for food and shelter starting with the government agencies that address homelessness and food service needs. I would also utilize the community resources such as food banks, clothing drives, homeless shelters and local agencies that give assistance to members of the community in need such as our library’s summer meal programs during summer months. If those needs were scarce, I would consider my team looking to create a food and clothing drive—seeking donations from local community members and businesses.

    We have community resources in our area but I would love to see more specifically housing services. Creating non-profit services for our most vulnerable citizens is a passion of mine. In my current job, I do not make referrals directly but I did in my previous job in Philadelphia. There are always groups that are underserved and that is why we need more programs to assess food and housing needs. The first step is assessing those needs which would require a thorough interview and connecting the customers to those resources. Helping skills (understanding and empathy) and closed-ended questions are two techniques that I would use during intake interviews. By using helping skills, the customer and I can build a rapport and trusting relationship. There also has to be a balance between relationship-building and needs assessments. Bu asking direct close-ended questions, I may to get the direct answers that I need. Some clients need straightforward questions that allows them to be direct about their needs, desires ad goals.

  20. Eboni Young says:

    Our clients are families who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). As part of the client’s monthly benefit they receive SNAP benefits (food stamps) monthly to feed their families. Often times, families run out of food, especially during the pandemic. Our program rely on strong partnerships and resources in our area to assist clients with additional needs. When in need of food, I refer clients to Bread for the City, a local non-profit, for immediate assistance. This organization requires minimal proof identity and family size. They provide one week of food based on your family size. In addition to the same day distribution, customers are able to receive these services monthly.
    Housing is one of the greatest challenges we face in Washington, DC. Although there are construction sites and new apartments being erected on a monthly basis, these housing choices are not allotted or affordable for our clients. When clients are in need of housing, I reluctantly refer them to the only option in our area and that is the over worked Virginia Williams Center. This organization is the main referral location for clients to be deemed homeless/in need of shelter. This certifying body is the first step in clients being referred to affordable housing options.
    When faced with these needs, I interact act with an empathetic approach. I don’t dig too deep with assessments and career placement needs, I approach with an understanding that a parent is trying to provide housing or food for their children. I address the immediate need and follow-up with additional services at a later time.

  21. Benjamin Gaskin says:

    There are several agencies that can potentially assist customers who need housing and meal assistance. I typically assist the customer with the creation of a resume. There are 2 agencies that I would recommend using in my local area. The number one resource having customer contact 211 Brevard. That is a public referral system designed to assist residents with crisis intervention and referrals to the need specific to that customer. The other one is the Community Action agency; they focus on self-sufficiency and housing. The creation of their resume would be targeted to focus on the customers’ experience and specific job targeting.

    I find the simplest techniques can be the toughest to master. Being able to listen and appropriately guide the conversation are most important techniques for allowing a customer to fully express themselves and keep the conversation productive. To be able to elicit these kinds of responses the customer must feel as ease to divulge their most urgent needs and what struggles they have now.

  22. timothy.bostic says:

    While I have not experienced a situation where I needed to refer someone for assistance, as a former supervisor in the federal government and having worked most of my adult life with the military, I am familiar with the programs geared toward a variety of assistance needs. One would be the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which provide confidential support and services for a broad range of situations that a federal employee may need assistance. I would also, for military Veterans, leverage the Veteran’s Administrations Vet Centers, that are community-based counseling centers that provide a wide range of social and psychological services, including professional readjustment counseling to eligible veterans and their families.
    I believe utilizing fundamental helping skills of understanding and empathy are critical to me developing the relationship of trust necessary to assist my level of clients during initial contact.
    I endeavor that they come to consider me an experienced and trusted non-biased resource that they may leverage in their career and professional development. By leveraging helping skills, I am able to build the rapport and trusting relationship that is so critical for successfully being an enabler for my clients. Often, I use closed-ended questioning that are direct in order to receive immediate answers that can help me gauge the best way to provide service and support to them; and which resources would be most beneficial. This technique also enables my clients to bring straightforward questions and to be direct about their needs, desires and goals; as well as what knowledge, skills and practical experience they bring to the table to build upon.

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