After we have discovered the gaps and needs we can begin to recommend strategies and supports aimed at eliminating the gap between “what is” and “what should or could be.”
At this time, it is also important to determine if LBS services are appropriate for the learner. Is the client eligible? Is the learner suitable? Does your agency have the capacity or is there a wait list? The Iroquois Falls Adult Learning Centre has created an Eligibility and Suitability Form to help them establish if a learner is right for their program. You can find a copy in the Sample Forms section of this module.
The needs determination may establish that access to other services would best assist the clients/learners to reach their goals. In these cases, we should take care that we match clients with the service and provider that best meet their needs in the fewest possible steps. Referrals to other services need not happen in isolation from LBS learning. By providing supported access to other services we can all help learners achieve their goals.
LBS learners, as do other adults, have many issues, pressures and responsibilities in their lives. Balancing these against the demands of learning is often difficult. It doesn’t take very long in the LBS field for practitioners to know that many literacy learners face challenges beyond the mandate and funding of LBS services. In fact, most literacy learners need some supports other than quality literacy instruction in order to succeed. If learners do not have the time, energy or focus for their learning activities, they will not make the progress required to reach their goals. Personal worries and challenges can divert a learner’s efforts from their LBS learning.
OALCF Supporting Learners through Service Coordination and Referrals (www.tcu.gov.on.ca/eng/eopg/publications/OALCF_Service_Coordination_Referrals_Oct_11.pdf) reports that research has identified fifteen supports, falling into five categories, which are important for learner success.
- Financial/Material Supports
- Income Support
- Academic Supports
- Learning Disability Assessment/Programming
- Monitoring/Support of program participation
- Employment Supports
- Job Search
- Monitoring and support for entry or re-entry into the workforce (e.g., orientation to workplace, work experience and job coaching, motivation/attitude regarding employment)
- Social Service Supports
- Housing Assistance
- Legal Assistance (including parole, pardon, custody, Children’s’ Aid)
- Personal/Family Counselling (including Anger Management/Stress Management Groups)
- Life/Social Skills (e.g., time management, interpersonal skills, assertiveness, problem solving, conflict resolution)
- Health Supports
- Mental Health Assessment/Support
- Addiction/Substance Abuse Counselling or Program
It is not possible for LBS programs and practitioners to develop the skills and expertise to help learners with all the issues that may be overwhelming them. Instead, by using service coordination and referral, we can link learners to the non-instructional supports they need. To do this we must have the knowledge, partnerships and tools that enable us to provide timely access to the required supports and services within our communities, over the Internet, etc.
For example, John is a learner at your program. He has always been a happy, energetic and motivated participant. You notice he is tired and fidgety and not applying himself. You sit down with him and tell him how you have noticed a difference. You ask if there is something troubling him that you could help with. He advises that his wife has been laid-off from her job, so now he doesn’t know how they are going to feed their family. If you do not know already, you research where there is a local food bank. You obtain an application (or let John do this if he is able) and help him to fill it out, if necessary. You check with John in few days to ensure he was able to go to the food bank and get support.
There is an expression, “If you don’t write it down, it didn’t happen.” That may be true if you don’t record your information and referral activities and that’s not to your advantage. Service Coordination in the form of referrals in and out of your program is a significant factor in MTCU’s rating of our LBS service provision.
MTCU tracks our referrals through what is recorded in EOIS-CaMS. In CaMS, we input our monthly Information and Referral statistics under two headings:
- Resource and Information for Information Sessions provided to various audiences
- Participation for referrals to other LBS programs or other services
We also need to place “referral in” and “referral out” information in the learner files, both hard copy files and EOIS-CaMS records. The learner plan is a good place to track these referrals. This practice also provides learners with a broader view of their plans and the supports they need in order to help them to reach their goals.
1. Think of a past or present learner, or another person you know that faces challenges that could stop him or her from moving ahead. Which of the 15 supports mentioned might help this person address his/her challenges?
2. Look over the list of 15 supports again. Do you know where and how you would refer a client/learner to each of these supports? If you are unsure, do some research. Talk to others at your agency or in your community who are knowledgeable about community resources; check the Internet, newspaper or phone book.
3. Take some time to review your agency’s client/learner needs determination process. Compare it to the steps listed under LBS Practitioner Responsibilities. (If your agency doesn’t yet have a formalized process, just use the list of Responsibilities.) Which step or steps in the process do you think might need to be strengthened? What could your agency do to strengthen this area?
4. How are you presently keeping track of your information and referrals? How do you ensure that they are recorded monthly in EOIS-CaMS?
5. How do you track referrals out to other programs and services?
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