Career Development Forum – September 2022

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.

67 thoughts on “Career Development Forum – September 2022”

  1. heidi says:

    When a Customer comes into our center and presents a need for housing and food, we have several options. If the Customer is currently unhouse, we can refer them to one of 3 shelters in our operating area. Each of these centers also has a dining facility on site. If the Customer is in danger of losing their stable housing or is in unstable housing, we can refer them to our housing authority for assistance, or possibly provide them with rental/mortgage assistance as well as financial education to assist with managing their funds. If we are assisting with housing or making a referral to an agency with no on site food assistance we can also make referrals to one of our community partners the Tarrant Area Food Bank. They have mobile foodbanks in areas around our community as well as a brick and mortar location where Customers can go and receive assistance.

    I find that asking open ended questions after sharing with the Customer a brief view of the menu of services we provide, is a great way to get Customer to open up. Sometimes sharing a success story of someone who has come before them, shows that by being forthcoming and open I am able to help them in a way that they did not see as an option before.

    A few things that have worked in the past for me, are that I fully listen and take notes while my Customer is talking. I refer back to these notes as I respond and make additions and corrections as I reflect back to them. I have found that this ensures I get the best picture of what is going on with my Customer.

    1. crogerson says:

      Providing the success of previous customers is a great way for them to visualize what could be. I agree that having them relate to others with similar needs creates that rapport and allows the customer to see their own potential.

    2. tracey.hancock says:

      The services indicated in this post are able to provide a lot of great opportunities for customers. The customer is given several options to help in a rental and food situation. They are given shelter opportunities, onsite dining facilities with housing, Food Banks, and assistance for those who are in jeopardy of losing their homes.
      I also think their technique of open-ended questions is good because it allows customers to talk and share more so that they can be assisted thoroughly and based on their needs.
      It is always good to listen attentively to the customers so that you can learn about them. It is also good to take notes so that you can go back and review them after the conversation so that you can assure that everything is being done for a customer.

    3. tracey.hancock says:

      The services indicated in this post are able to provide a lot of great opportunities for customers. The customer is given several options to help in a rental and food situation. They are given shelter opportunities, onsite dining facilities with housing, Food Banks, and assistance for those who are in jeopardy of losing their homes.
      I also think their technique of open-ended questions is good because it allows customers to talk and share more so that they can be assisted thoroughly and based on their needs.
      It is always good to listen attentively to the customers so that you can learn about them. It is also good to take notes so that you can go back and review them after the conversation so that you can assure that everything is being done for a customer.


    4. tracey.hancock says:

      The services indicated in this post are able to provide a lot of great opportunities for customers. The customer is given several options to help in a rental and food situation. They are given shelter opportunities, onsite dining facilities with housing, Food Banks, and assistance for those who are in jeopardy of losing their homes.
      I also think their technique of open-ended questions is good because it allows customers to talk and share more so that they can be assisted thoroughly and based on their needs.
      It is always good to listen attentively to the customers so that you can learn about them. It is also good to take notes so that you can go back and review them after the conversation so that you can assure that everything is being done for a customer.

      1. jcampos says:

        I could not agree more on how important open ended questions are. By asking these type of questions and allowing the client to respond before we go straight into problem solving allows for so much information to be exchanged. Listening attentively can be hard at times but so important. Great points.

    5. tegan.leonard says:

      I wish we had a mobile foodbank in our region. We sometimes have volunteers who meet with clients at a designated space and under certain circumstances may go to their homes to deliver. This is not readily available in our region probably because we are spread out over 3 counties which, for Maryland standards, are considered mostly rural. One national resource that may be helpful for finding new resources in your area is or calling 211. They provide information about specific service providers in your county. For instance, if you call seeking food assistance, they can provide a list of all foodbanks in the county and how to contact them. 211 won’t specify if the service has a qualifier like household income level or if it is open to all. We are left to contact the organizations directly to find more specific information. It is a great resource though and can be used even on cell phones. (Tegan)

    6. gnegrete says:

      Your technique of providing the success stories of previous customer is a strategy that I need to implement more. It could really add perspective when some one is feeling depressed due to their unfortunate circumstances. This new perspective could also give them motivation to stay on this trajectory because with hard work they could also acquire success. As mentioned I need to implement this technique during my interview/ intake process

  2. crogerson says:

    To provide the customer with a referral source that covers multiple needs and alleviate trips to different agencies, I would refer the customer to the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services. Through the PGC DSS, the customer can be provided services related to both housing and food assistance. Depending specifically on the customer’s housing needs, they would be able to receive financial assistance in the form of security deposits or information related to being in danger of eviction and foreclosure. Temporary shelter is also available for customers in emergency situations. PGC DSS provides an array of services for customers with varying needs. PGC DSS also provides emergency food assistance across the county within 30 local pantries. This service is free of charge and in addition to the many other services provided by the agency.
    An objective assessment, provided by the Maryland Workforce Exchange is one of the best tools available to assist in asking different questions to gather all necessary information on a customer’s barriers. The objective assessment allows an intentional conversation to occur between the career consultant/intake specialist to ensure all barriers are discussed in a casual setting. Building rapport with the customer immediately upon meeting, within the intake interview as well as all meetings following will allow the customer to open up with as much information needed to serve them wholistically. Providing examples of partner agencies and services provided to assist with the identified barriers allows the customer to visualize what may be needed. In addition, describing the possible routes the customer will take throughout our programming can assist in their visualization on what they may be lacking, such as transportation to work or the need for childcare.

    1. anvenette.mcdonald says:

      I am definitely an advocate of DSS and love the programs that they have in place for individuals in need. I love the fact that there is a thorough assessment used in MWE to help to identify customer barriers and help to ease the initial conversation between the customer and the consultant as well as all subsequent conversations. It makes establishing plans to help customers to learn how to tackle those identified barriers a must. Once customers start learning how to identify and deal with issues/barriers themselves they start to become more independent of programs and therefore more self sufficient which is of course our the ultimate goal.

      1. rcordero says:

        I too am a huge advocate of DSS!
        The assessments are key to helping any induvial with any organization. I agree with this post 100%. It’s true that customers may not even know they have certain barriers, with speaking with specialists and filling out questionnaires it become a bit easier to understand and learn how to identify it further themselves. Great work and appreciate what you do.

  3. tracey.hancock says:

    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?
    3. Describe 1-2 techniques you use that work well for you.
    In my area, I would refer the customer to the Department of Health and Human Services. In this agency, you are able to get assistance for rental purposes through RAP (Rental Assistance Program), public assistance where you can get food stamps, and shelter services. These services are offered through the Montgomery County government. I may also refer them to churches or other places where they can get assistance with food specifically. These services often present drive-up and walk-up services for the customer.

    The technique that I have found especially helpful in an intake interview to discover barriers that a customer might be facing is to build a relationship with the customer so that they trust me. Then I will ask the customer questions and allow them to fully answer without interjecting. It is important for the customer to feel comfortable conversing with me so that I can give the best possible services.

    Some technique that works well for me is to build a relationship with my customers, so they trust and feel comfortable with me. Another method is to assure the customer by eye contact and posture that I am listening to them and understand what they are saying. These things will make my customers feel comfortable and will allow me to assist them in a way that will be beneficial to them.

    1. Stephanie Ray says:

      I totally agree that building a relationship with the customer is the most important thing. You can ask all the “right” questions but if a customer doesn’t trust you, they aren’t going to provide the answers you need to be able to fully assist them.

      1. aslaughter says:

        I really like the options you presented, I think it’s so important to have multiple options for referrals for barriers such as housing and food, options that have different timelines and that can cater towards different food needs – halal foods, etc. And in moments of feeling like you have lost control, options can assist with those feeling. And along with being responsive to their specific needs, I agree that you need a strong relationship with your customer to be able to understand those needs. Making them feel comfortable, respected, and like they have someone they can trust is vital, especially during the intake process.

    2. heidi says:

      Like other classmates I too agree that building a relationship with the customer is one of the most important things. All good relationships are built on trust and respect. If the Customer doesn’t feel heard they won’t be open enough for us to be able to help to our fullest abilities.

  4. tracey.hancock says:

    The services indicated in this post are able to provide a lot of great opportunities for customers. The customer is given several options to help in a rental and food situation. They are given shelter opportunities, onsite dining facilities with housing, Food Banks, and assistance for those who are in jeopardy of losing their homes.
    I also think their technique of open-ended questions is good because it allows customers to talk and share more so that they can be assisted thoroughly and based on their needs.
    It is always good to listen attentively to the customers so that you can learn about them. It is also good to take notes so that you can go back and review them after the conversation so that you can assure that everything is being done for a customer.


    1. kristi says:

      Tracey, I agree that taking notes is a great idea! That is a perfect way to confirm we have heard what the customer has said, and they too can read the notes to make sure they mentioned everything they intended to. Also, it may help them to recall other needs they left out.

    2. Jacqueline.Sharrah says:

      Tracy, I found that your response in my response are very similar. We do work in American job centers in both of us have very similar positions. I to feel that your posture and your actions toward a person in the kind words that you use with them can go a very long way, in addition to giving them and telling them about the services that they could utilize. It always stands as good affirmation to see another colleague, doing the same thing!

  5. Stephanie Ray says:

    1. To whom in your local area do you refer them for this assistance?

    There are two nonprofit organizations in our area that specifically assist with securing housing so depending on their situation, I would send them to either the White Mountain Coalition Against Homelessness or Old Concho Community Assistance Center. If someone has housing but is struggling to pay rent, utilities, etc. I would send them to our local Community Action Program case manager for immediate assistance with those bills that they are behind on paying.
    For those with food insecurity, there is only one organization in our region that offers hot meals and they only offer a hot lunch. It is also located in an area that is not immediately accessible for many people so in rare circumstances I would send someone to the Love Kitchen. There are many organizations that hand out food boxes and I have a list readily available that helps me guide the customer because it gives not only the location but exactly when and how often food boxes are distributed so I can help someone find a food box that is close to them and also find where they can go to receive a food box quickly.

    2. What techniques have you found especially helpful to use in an intake interview to discover barriers that a customer might be facing?

    Questioning and listening are the top two techniques I use to understand a customer’s barriers. I’ve found that oftentimes, customers can’t immediately articulate or prioritize their needs. They initially state that they need a job or training but the longer you talk with them, other needs surface that are higher priority such as housing and meals.

    3. Describe 1-2 techniques you use that work well for you.
    The first technique is simply listening without thinking about solutions right away. Customers often need to vent before they can get around to describing their current situation and by letting them do that, I think that helps them feel comfortable and that I really do care about them. After they are done telling me about their situation, I’ll circle back and ask questions to specifically address anything they didn’t already tell me, especially about basic needs and barriers. For those that don’t want to share a lot, I start with specific questions to find out whether their basic needs are being met and then move on to questions about other barriers they are facing.

    1. amy.trumpower says:

      I am glad to hear that you have a Community Action Coalition/Council. We have one in our community as well and they help thousands of people a year stay in their homes, pay their utilities, and provide food. I wish that all communities had one they are an invaluable partner in our county! Also, I agree that customers do need to vent and sometimes it can be difficult to redirect them to solutions. As you stated, you have to be willing to take the time to listen to establish a positive relationship. I think that when we are super busy with multiple cases and lots of paperwork it is easy to allow our minds to trail off when someone is speaking, so listening is really an art form!

    2. cadixon says:

      The resources that your agency is able to provide customers in need and homeless are awesome. I believe my organization is able to provide a customer with food and even clothing from different clothing & food banks/ drives however, I don’t think we have anyone that is able to provide our customers with a hot meal immediately. I think this would be super helpful in my area if we did have it. I also notice the same habits with my customers where they will start out saying they just need a job or training, but it ends up being more identified through their form that they have to fill out prior to meeting with me, or as they start to vent, the barriers start to uncover themselves in regular conversation. Love the techniques you are using! They are super helpful.

  6. amy.trumpower says:

    1. To whom in your local area do you refer them for this assistance?
    In Washington County, MD we have multiple locations to refer customer’s for food and housing.
    • Department of Social Services / Food & Housing
    • Community Action Council / Food Bank, Emergency Rental Assistance, Utility Assistance.
    • REACH/ Homeless Shelter/ Meals
    • Goodwill Industries/ Emergency Shelter Assistance and Food Bank / Clothing
    • Salvation Army/ Emergency Shelter/ Hot Meals / Clothing
    • 5 Local City Churches also have Food Banks
    2. What techniques have you found especially helpful to use in an intake interview to discover barriers that a customer might be facing?
    Open ended questions that encourage customer to elaborate more about the issues they are facing. Interviewing in a private area free of distractions. Giving my attention to the customer by making eye contact and attentively listening. Encouraging customers to help themselves by examining all available resources.
    3. Describe 1-2 techniques you use that work well for you.
    Listening and taking notes but being careful to not appear disengaged when recording the information. I really do not like it when someone is constantly writing as I am speaking so I try to be aware of eye contact and pauses during the conversation.
    Showing empathy and concern and following through with additional contacts to show customer that I am invested in the outcome not just giving lip service.

  7. cadixon says:

    When a customer comes in and identifies that they have housing a food needs, we refer them to one of our several partners or neighbors in our area. If none of those work for that particular customer, I have personally done research for shelter homes and shelter programs in DC, Maryland (both Prince George’s and Montogomery County), and Virginia that are helpful most times. One of the main things we do is see if they have applied before to prevent frustration on the customers end if they have. We try to provide a name with the number to support their efforts in making an appointment with the housing assistance program.

    We also partner with local businesses, and churches that provide food and clothing drives on a regular basis in conjunction with referring them to social services. In our AJC, we have an agent that works there weekly to provide customers with assistance and hold SNAP and TANF information sessions.

    Helpful techniques that I have used is asking open ended questions but mostly providing a one-on-one interview where we may be in a private setting like an office where I can close the door to allow for a safe environment. If I am unable to borrow an empty office for an initial interview, I will ask the questions in a friendly, comforting, even tone, but pay attention to the customer’s body language for signs of being uncomfortable. Also, most customers like my honesty. They like the fact that I am knowledgeable about how to help them and that I provide them with names and numbers for the people that they are being referred to. If I don’t know, I will let them know I don’t all while reaching out to someone I think may be more knowledgeable than me.

    Two techniques I use is I only allow myself to ask the customer open ended questions. It will usually start off with asking 3-5 open ended questions, but then it will turn into more as I take notes based on the customers responses to the needs or barriers that need to be addressed. In the beginning of the interview, I am always honest with how long the interview will take, However, I do let the customer know that I want to make sure that I have a thorough understanding of their needs as well as their goals. Asking if it’s okay to take notes while they respond to my questions since it is a partnership is helpful with trust since their consent is important. (I will let them know if I am too quiet or looking away too often that I am writing notes, so they are aware).

    *My golden rule is to repeat everything back to my customer at the end of our interview to ensure I have everything right and to make sure that I didn’t miss any facts or important details about them.

  8. anvenette.mcdonald says:

    In my area individuals in need of help with obtaining housing assistance and food can be referred to the Department of Human Services for SNAP program as well as several programs to get supplemental housing assistance. There are also several food pantries, and churches that aid with individuals in need. Catholic Charities is a wonderful resource in this capacity as well with several programs under there umbrella like the SHARE program which allows individuals to shop for food at a discounted rate as well as providing Food Pantries where people can pick up free perishable and nonperishable items. They also refer to and have a host of shelters and transitional housing resources.
    To know if an individual needs assistance I usually discover this through intake and that is usually an individual appointment. I have a lot of things to cover during an individual appointment, so I try to keep the client at ease by lightening the mood, keeping things conversational with appropriate eye contact and gestures, and respecting their space. I ask individuals about the bases they have covered first. Essentially going through their strengths, the places where little to no assistance is needed; and then we go into the things that may need to be worked on. It’s important to concentrate and identify the positive aspects of the individual’s situation so it does not seem like we linger on what might not be moving in the right direction at that point in time. As always keeping it conversational, asking open ended questions and keeping it lighthearted helps to open the client and establish trust as well.

  9. aslaughter says:

    If I was working with a client that was in need of housing and food assistance, I would first provide a warm handoff referral to the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services. They can assist with finding emergency shelter, and my client could access food through their emergency food assistance program. As those are both immediate solutions, I would also work with my client towards more intermediate solutions including applying for SNAP and assess eligibility for the Housing Choice Voucher program. And then, all services we discuss and provide would be through the lens of ensuing basic needs are currently being met and can continue being met in the future.

    One technique I have found useful in intake interview to discover barriers would be to use open ended questions and other motivational interviewing techniques such as reflections to get the client to open up about the barriers they are facing. It’s important to recognize the vulnerable place your client may be in when telling a stranger about what is going on in their lives. However, conversation over running through a checklist has in most instance been a more effective technique. It’s also important to build rapport with your customer and prove to them that they can trust you. Additionally, in the initial interview, I have found it effective to focus on listening and taking discreet notes, rather than trying to problem solve. This is their chance to share what is going on in their life, and it is your chance to get to know them; working towards solutions can come later.

  10. kristi says:

    If I were assisting a job seeker, or customer, I would spend time with them researching the website Aunt Bertha ( Using this website, the individual can set filters in order to locate suggestions for behavioral health, housing, food, and even personal goods. The housing section breaks down into sub-categories such as finding housing, maintenance and repairs, and temporary shelters.

    In order for a customer to feel comfortable and share their experiences with me, it would be important to actively listen to their concerns, not attempt to interject my own thoughts first. Not every customer’s journey is the same, even if the circumstances are similar. Only then can we offer our empathy and begin to bridge the gap between their needs and availability of services.

    Once we listen to a customer’s needs, we can begin to build the relationship by confirming our understanding. We then can use reflection terms like, “Wow, that must have been really challenging.”, or “I can imagine that must have been a tough situation.” If we approach the situation with compassion, it frees the customer from judgement or shame.

    1. jmolina says:

      Kristi i like that you complete an assessment online with them. I have never tried this but would like to someday. I strongly believe that once you are taking time with your client and browsing the website this will build that relationship with them and better assist them. Great work!

    2. jaime.madison1 says:

      What a great resource Aunt Bertha is, I had no idea about it until I read your post to see if it pertained to Maryland. Often people are referred to dial 211 for assistance with resources but I have found here in my area that information is not accurate and misleading. I often use the reflection terms you stated and feel like they help break through to difficult to reach customers. I agree that creating an atmosphere free of judgement allows the customer to confide hardships and allows the process of seeking assistance to begin.

    3. sean.santmyire says:

      I have never heard of Aunt Bertha. I will definitely look it up.

    4. crystal.lagoda says:

      Kristi – Thank you for sharing the Aunt Bertha resource ( I have not heard of this website. I am going to check it out today.

    5. Sandra.Liuzzi says:

      I actually checked out the site. Very useful. I am actually wondering what would be the equivalent for the east coast area here.

    6. andrea.kenney says:

      Wow! I never heard of Aunt Bertha, but I will check into it, I have a customer who would truly benefit from this service.

  11. jmolina says:

    In Santa Maria (Santa Barbara County) For food I will refer them to Department of Social Services, Second I will send them to our local Salvation Army located at 200 W. Cook St. Santa Maria, CA 93454. They serve hot meals daily from 11:30am-12:30pm. I will also refer them to call communify at (805) 922-2243. they also have resources available to the public. Also refer to our local food bank located at 490 W. Foster Road here in Santa Maria, CA. Lastly refer to our Emergency self sufficiency center located 1414 S. Broadway in Santa Maria, CA as well.

    2. I have found that what has helped me is when i do the objective assessment with the client, i like to go over each question with them to ensure any barriers they might have and refer them out accordingly. I also like giving my attention to the customer by making eye contact and attentively listening. Lastly giving the participant any flyers or information of referrals from our resource center.

    3. Techniques that i have found that work best for me are listening and listen some more! Once i build that report the participant will open up to me and this is the way as a case manager I’m able to give my full potential and assess any barriers needed. I like to listen and taking notes so that it can help me better assist. Also what i have found that works is after I complete the objective assessment, i like to go over it with them just to target for anything they forgot to mention to me. I have found that this helps remind them of any possible barriers they missed.

    1. christinalkuhn says:

      The organizations that you listed for food and housing are great resources for clients. The Salvation Army is a great organization. When I was a young kid my great grandfather, (WWII) Veteran) would say when we needed a good cup of coffee and clean socks we always knew we could get it from the Salvation Army tent. To think 100 years later they are still helping people around the world.

      I couldn’t agree with you more in that listening and being present to our clients is so very important. I like that you mentioned you review the Objective Assessment information with your client once completed. This gives the client an opportunity to fill in any blanks.

  12. jaime.madison1 says:

    If a customer needed assistance with housing and meals, I would gather information to see how urgent the access to these resources is. If the needs are urgent, I would refer the customer to our local partner Meeting Ground who facilitates emergency shelter coordination. If they need temporary assistance, I will refer them to the Cecil County Government Housing and Community Development to speak with a Housing Counselor for eviction/foreclosure help or the Department of Social Services or other outreach partners for funding to pay for outstanding rent due. The customer would be referred to local food pantries and the Department of Social Services for emergency food. If this need is ongoing, I would assist the customer in applying for SNAP (food stamps) benefits for monthly financial assistance.
    I have not found many concerns in obtaining barrier information from customers as many say I am easy to talk to and seem helpful. I reiterate that what we are discussing will be kept confidential and sometimes share personal examples of my own which many can relate to. I make sure to mention and review our resource guide so customers are aware of all the assistance they can access. When I review this material, some customers will open up once I describe a resource that this is a hardship and needed. I find that empathic listening is a great way to build rapport with customers.

  13. sean.santmyire says:

    I would refer them to the only agency in our area that has the resources to help folks with housing and food, the Department of Social Services. The “warm handoff” would be great although as agencies move to a more telework model to save money and the environment, that is hard, so the “warm handoff” is sometimes turns into a cold sendoff.

    Open ended questions work well to get answers. Active listening can tune you into key words that can enable you to learn more about them. listening to their answer about did they arrive there, were they so wet that it looks like they had to walk a long distance to get there. Were they carrying multiple bags, did they have a “worker” with them.

    1. vallerie.lewis says:

      I agree, Sean. With everything moving toward digital spaces, I am not sure how the handing-off of clients will be affected in the future. I also like the fact that you shared you take note of what physical aspects of the clients you can pick up on to possibly give you some clues on what may be possible barriers to employment. Of course, during the intake session, they may share the same things we took note of or we may never find out for sure because they’re not ready to open up about it yet.

  14. crystal.lagoda says:

    When a customer comes into the center and states they are homeless, I refer them to 211, Asian American Center of Frederick, Department of Social Services, Community Action Agency and Frederic County Housing and Community Development. All of these agencies address and assist with housing needs.
    If a customer comes into the center and is in need of food/meals, I would refer them to the local food bank, Dept of Social Services, as well as provide them with a food bank locator tool. If they have children in school, I would also encourage them to reach out to their school guidance counselor for additional resources.
    I have found that using my listening skills is imperative to pick up on clues that someone needs assistance with housing and meals because some people do not like sharing that information. I have also found it helpful to have the customer create or update their Maryland Workforce Exchange account since they enter their address, identify if they are homeless and receiving government assistance.

  15. rcordero says:

    In my local area there are several agencies that I like to refer them for this assistance.
    If a client is in need of food a referral to our local foodbanks is a good first start another example is a direct referral sent out from our office directly to our partner unity shoppe. Unity shoppe is a non-profit organization for families or individuals in their time of need with groceries and also where they can get help with clothing. If there is a need for housing, I would suggest different agencies such as HUD, PATH an interim housing program serving homeless men and women, Salvation army, Transition house for families, salvation army, nearby church, and if eligible for social services they may get immediate short-term solution with hotel vouchers.

    Alot of the time a client will identify their needs right away, but to do an intake properly I ask specific questions and to document the need I give a form with several other questions in every case, so nothing is missed. Gathering all information is important to break barriers a client is having to employment. It is vital that food, housing, and clothing are not an issue for them to move forward in a healthy way (this is key to long term success).

    1. efranco says:

      Great post Raquel, You are absolutely right. When a customer inquiries about workforce services the first step is to listen to their needs, and to pay close attention to their verbal and non-verbal cues. As you mentioned, part of a successful outcome is digging deep by identifying barriers to employment. Food and shelter are top priorities to help reduce the stressors of daily living.

    2. kfishbach says:

      Great job Raquel. I totally agree on referring them to unity shoppe and the different housing places here in Santa Barbara. I also agree to what you are saying about the intake interview. I think we should start doing that in the intake more and using the objective assessment or another assessment to help us know clients barriers.

    3. carmjones says:

      This was very informing raquel. This referral would be great for those in need. It would be great for you to inform those about the community places that can help with those in need with housing and food assistance. The documentations for question is a great idea so that things will not be left out or skipped over.

  16. Sandra.Liuzzi says:

    I have actually had a few customers that have had issues with housing so I know which steps I took. The customers that had these issues were walk-ins at my center and I take them to my office for privacy and then I go through my initial assessment to see if there are any resources they might have that they haven’t considered such as family or friends that might be able to assist them until they get on their feet. Once all option are exhausted, my go-to is utilizing our “Guide to Community Services” for Howard County which has numerous organizations that assist with those experiencing issues with food and housing,domestic violence, mental health and senior care. I carry this with me everywhere and everyday and distribute frequently to those who are in need of any resources beyond a workforce need. Grassroots is the normal go to for immediate housing but I have a few numbers I have accumulated to reach out to in case they are full or don’t qualify for whatever reason. I also recommend the Department of Social Services but I do know that support from there might be a long shot and I know the organizations in this book is ready and willing to help. I give them a copy and I try to make a few phone calls with them to get the ball started. I make sure I follow up with them the next day to see what progress is being made. I have even bought lunch for two of them when we had follow up appointments. To be honest, considering I never worked in workforce before, I never thought I would be working with the homeless or hungry in this capacity, so I really hope I can make a difference! Very grateful for that guide!!

  17. efranco says:

    In this scenario, I would ask permission to jot down notes to address their original request of looking for work and also grab our Customer Intake form to address the barriers to employment mentioned in this exercise. We have several options when addressing lack of meals and housing; however, the first step is to identify if the need is immediate or not.
    The techniques that I tend to use and have worked for me are as follows:
    First, I would complete a referral form to the partner agency (if necessary for immediate support) that provides meal services and also, give the customer a list of local foodbanks with their address, dates and times. Then I would explain my personal experience when working with the agency and what to expect. For immediate assistance, I would also then call the agency in front of the customer to ensure the agency is still actively taking new referrals and determine what their process looks like today and explain to the customer what they can expect when they arrive for help and who to ask for when they do arrive. Finally, I would make sure the person walked away with an Action Plan with their next steps. I would have the customer learned or at minimum have them watch and se how I completed an internet search for support services. I would make a copy for the file and email a copy to the customer as a reference. At our local AJCC we tend to use Unity Shoppe, Franklin Community Center, and Organic Food Kitchen.
    A housing referrals is the same process, but the agencies are different. The agencies we use today are as follows: A list of local shelters, City (located two blocks away from the AJCC) and County Housing Authority. Help the individual in identifying if there is someone in their immediate circle that can provide temporary shelter.

  18. caroletta.ryans says:

    In our local area the “Neighborhood Center” is where I would refer customers in need of assistance with housing and meals. As well as the local food pantry. Also, I would refer them to the department of social services. The technique I found helpful during an intake interview is the “Helping Relationship”. Doing this I’m able to get an understanding of the barriers they may be facing such as: no income, transportation, substance abuse or health issues. This will allow me to incorporate the technique “Helping Skills Techniques” that work well for me. Listening, allows me to understand and interpret what the customer is conveying to me. Also, encouraging them and asking those opened ended questions to get additional information.

    1. jcampos says:

      I couldn’t agree more that “listening: is probably one of the most if not “the most” important technique that we can practice.

  19. caroletta.ryans says:

    I totally agree with you Crystal that often the customers aren’t open about needing assistance. Also utilizing listening skills is beneficial. Yes, doing this at times isn’t enough to get that answer if food and shelter is needed. Having them register or update their MWE account does provide the opportunity to ask those open-ended questions to be able to see what services are needed.

  20. jcampos says:

    In our local area if an individual comes into our center needing assistance with food, we have a local DSS representative on site that can assist them with applying for SNAP (Food stamps). If she is unavailable, we are all well versed on how to assist someone to go onto the DSS Website and assist them with completing the application for food stamps. If they need immediate food our DSS rep also tries to keep a few bags of food on site. We are also working on becoming a Partner of SLO Food Bank where we can have so many dry bags available to us each month. We also provide a Local County List through SLO Food Bank of all distribution sites throughout the month. For housing we do the same process. We are partnered with DSS that may be able to provide emergency housing and we also Partner with HASLO in our community to get clients connected to those resources. All information is given to them and we can also assist them with contacting someone if needed. We do have a few other Safe Park sites here in the local area that we provide information for.
    During an intake interview we have found that by being friendly, nonjudgmental, and paying attention to non-verbal and verbal ques we have been successful with determining barriers. While building that rapport with the client they tend to open up a little more freely. I think by staff also being trained and open minded they are able to pick up on subtle comments that the client makes as soon as they walk in the door. By having great communication between staff and also between staff and participants we have been very successful. Most importantly I think by our office treating everyone that comes through our door with respect and professionalism word of mouth between clients has also helped them feel more safe and comfortable in sharing their barriers. I practice these very techniques and it has worked well for me.

    1. amanda.vogelman says:

      I think that’s a really great idea to work with your DSS rep to have bags of food on site, especially if it can be a process to get them qualified for food stamps. I believe that’s very beneficial if programs such as ours have that connection with local food banks to where you can have bags available each month. Or even if it’s just a connection to where we spot these barriers and know that we have x number of customers that will need these resources and have more or less bags ready for them.

  21. darnell.fostersr says:

    1. To whom in your local area do you refer them for this assistance?
    I direct my customers to Community Assistance Network, Inc. (CAN) because they are high on preventive housing evictions as well as providing rental assistance. They also have a Food Pantry program designated to feed the hungry.
    I have customers utilize or call 211, which is a 24-hour-a-day, 7 days a week, and over 180 language resource centers and they will point the customer to the proper resource available to meet whatever their concerns and needs are. The Department of Human Services (DHS) is able to tend to both housing and meal concerns as well, so I direct them there.
    2. What techniques have you found especially helpful to use in an intake interview to discover barriers that a customer might be facing?
    Listening, sympathy, empathy, demonstrating that I care, and establishing trust with my customer that they have the latitude to share whatever is concerning them and that they believe that I can assist them in changing the tide.

    3. Describe 1-2 techniques you use that work well for you.
    Allowing customers to express their feelings and thoughts regarding their frustrations, disappointments, and barriers that they are facing. After that, to demonstrate that I was hearing them, I addressed what they have shared in my response by providing the necessary assistance needed.

  22. darnell.fostersr says:

    I can only say, based on the posts of us all, that we all are assisting our customers the best we can, and the greatest thing that I believe that we can provide is to treat and help others like we want to be treated and helped if the roles were reversed.

    1. andrea.kenney says:

      Darnell, you are so right!! People who need help just want someone to listen and hear them out and help where or however they can. If all of our staff were to take this work ethic serious and lend an ear, lend some help, just give people time to speak, we could better serve our customers.

  23. vallerie.lewis says:

    If a customer visits our center for assistance with looking for work and during the intake process, I discover they are also looking for help with food and housing, I will refer them to the Anne Arundel County Department of Social Services (AACDSS). There, they will be able to obtain a myriad of information as it pertains to both. The agency has housing pamphlets, flyers, and some applications for Housing of Urban Development, Income-Based Housing, The Housing Commission of Anne Arundel County, the Housing Authority, and more. The AACDSS also offers food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to those who meet certain financial and other criteria. The AACDSS also has listings of shelters & food pantries too. Our center has access to some of these resources as well.

    I’ve found that asking questions in a certain way will prompt the client to open up, express, and reveal the barriers that are keeping them from finding and or sustaining employment. Especially, after I have gained their trust and they believe I am genuinely going to help them. In addition, when I show them, I am listening carefully while using direct eye contact and this works well too. When I consistently sum up what they are telling me and let them know I totally understand what they are conveying is a helpful technique as well.

    1. Jbarboza says:

      Hi Valerie, I like your support and response. I agree, asking them questions definitely helps them open up more. Its unfortunate they are going through this but as long as we provide them all the resources we can and offer that support hopefully it is makes a difference! A step closer for them to hopefully help overcome their barriers.

  24. tegan.leonard says:

    Clients who are in need of housing and meals are directed based on what they are qualified to receive and location. Our center covers services for 3 counties in Maryland, St. Mary’s, Calvert and Charles. U. S. Military veterans qualify for services from Easter Seals and MCVET. They offer services to help veterans who are at-risk of becoming homeless and who are homeless find housing, resources and training to get work to get them on their feet. These candidates would also qualify to work with our DVOP staff if they choose to do so. For veterans and those who are not veterans we offer referrals to social services for food assistance, we offer information about local food banks, shelters and assistive organizations, like Lifestyles of Maryland. We also offer information about for other assistance they may need and think of later. They can either call or go online to to find assistance for food, housing, mental health, Covid19, reduction in utility costs and more.

    I have found that having pre-planned open ended questions and empathy for their situation helps them open up about their circumstances. This in turn makes it easier to find solutions to discuss with the client. Ultimately the client will decide the best course of action for their situation and I try to support them with resources, understanding and respect. After providing some options available I always try to follow the client’s direction. They, after all, are in charge of their life and decisions. I have found that if I try to lead without their input, the services provided often can be tolerated but ultimately ignored by the client or, at worst, resented by the client.

  25. Jbarboza says:

    I would refer that client to our local foodbanks and churches. I would provide them with all the information they need, phone number/hours/days that they are distributing food. I would also refer them to apply for Calfresh food benefits as I know there is immediate assistance available for those that qualify. For housing, I would provide them with a list of our local shelters as well as the Housing Authority and Catholic Charities information.

    Techniques that I have found helpful are taking notes while I’m talking to the client and acknowledging what they are telling me, so that they know I am listening. Letting them express their feelings and frustrations, creating that trust so that they can be more open to me.. After I will go back to my notes and go over them with them to make sure I’m not missing anything and begin to create a plan of action with them and guide with the process, them if needed.

  26. gnegrete says:

    At the American Job career center we partner with a lot of different organizations to support a customer . In regards to housing and finding shelter the county has contracted a non profit by the name of city net. city has out reach workers to certify un housed residence with proper documentation. This organization main priority if to het un-housed residence in a stable living situation.

    In regards to getting assistance for food there are a couple of organizations called unity shop and catholic charities. Both organizations are walking distance from the career center I work out of. Both charities will provide food vouchers for any one who walks in and shows proper documentation. Unity shop provides more long term support for food, I would just need to fax over a referral form.

    when it comes to my intake process. I find that following a step by step interview process that highlights different categories such as housing needs, veteran back-round transportation needs, nutrition ect.. Really helps identifying barriers , Also a technique I’ve used that works well for me is to ask a lot of open ended questions to get as much information from a customer. Another technique I used is to allow the customer time to digest the information I gave him in regards to the WIOA program I work for. By the second appointment , When the customer feels a bit more comfortable in my office, I reiterate similar questions that highlight potential barriers the client might have. By the end of the second meeting i like to give the customer a flyer just in case he needs assistance down the line. But if he does state he needs food or housing assistance I provide addressees to those organizations and the point of contact that they can call in order for them to get the proper support.

  27. andrea.kenney says:

    1. To whom in your local area do you refer them for this assistance?
    For housing assistance, I would refer this person to our local housing authority or a shelter who can meet their needs. I may also contact a few rental agents who work with low income individuals and see what they can offer, some will even barter (trade work for rent) to get them started. I have one shelter that that will provide housing and if a person is working they have to pay a weekly room and board which the shelter saves for them when they secure a stable place to live and they give it to them as extra help on their new place.
    For food I would refer them to a local shelter that provide a bagged breakfast and sit down dinner or the local food bank and other food pantries.
    2. What techniques have you found especially helpful to use in an intake interview to discover barriers that a customer might be facing?
    I ask open questions, tell me about yourself? where did you work last and how long? what about the job prior to that? what do you like to do? Eventually if you talk to some people long enough they will tell you their barriers, you have to listen and show you care for them to really open up.
    3. Describe 1-2 techniques you use that work well for you.

    Listening and showing care / empathy are two techniques I use, and they seem to work. The more you allow a person to open up and let them just talk, the more you learn and the more comfortable they become. I sometimes may be the only person who has given this person the freedom to talk and share without negative energy or cutting them short on conversation. In order to help them help themselves we have to build trust and a strong relationship. My goal would be to give them enough skills and education to empower them to do for themselves while I stay aside for accountability.

    1. aaguilera says:

      It is great to read some rental agents agree to work with low income individuals to trade work for rent. This could potentially be learning experience to put in their resumes. In addition, I like the fact the shelter starts charging rent once the individual starts working. I believe, this will give the client the sense of what it is to have a monthly housing payment which will assist to give them budget techniques. I am sure once the individual secures stable housing, and he/she receives the money back they paid for rent they feel good about themselves, and have the extra money to for their new place.

  28. aaguilera says:

    In our center, I would initially refer individuals to the FoodBank Santa Barbara County as they have over 50 active food distribution sites. In addition, I would also refer individuals to the Department of Social Services to apply for CalFresh/Food Stamps. Also, I would provide individuals with information about The Salvation Army Santa Maria Food Pantry as they offer Food Pantry hours 3 times a week and Hot Meal hours Monday through Friday. Catholic Charities Santa Maria is also a good community resource as they offer clients with no-cost household goods and food distribution as well. For housing resources, I would refer individuals to the same community organization stated and to the Housing Authority, Good Samaritan Shelter, and Community Action known as CommUnify.
    The technique I have found useful to use in an intake interview is the Objective Assessment, as it gives me a better understanding of the current barriers the client is facing and potentially face in the future.
    The technique that has work well for me is always ask all questions possible, just in case something was not mentioned in the assessment and that could potentially have an impact on the client. Also, have active listening to learn the situation the client is currently in, to build a better relationship and from there assist the client the best possible way.

    1. stnavarro says:

      Ana, the objective assessment is a great tool to attain an overall information of the client. I does provide great questions for employment need and possible wage. I do agree with active listening, it not important to have eye contact but also not been distracted with a computer in front of you. I do think that you create the biggest impact, great making sure you ask and build the relationship will really make the client know you are there to serve them.

  29. amanda.vogelman says:

    If an individual needs assistance with housing and meals, we refer them to the Bucks County Housing Link and to the Salvation Army or local churches. The housing link is the first stop in referring housing resources. Once the individual is connected with this resource, they mention that they are with our Out-of-School Youth program to try to get quicker housing. With meals, they are referred to the Salvation Army, local churches, and local food banks. We also offer gift card incentives to Wawa so if they have things to complete within our program, they can complete these tests and earn these gift cards to use towards meals.

    During orientation for our program, we utilize a formal questionnaire/application to gather any barriers the customer might be facing. This application asks questions regarding their housing status, so that we can determine if the housing link needs to be a referral immediately, especially depending on the weather and other circumstances. We’re also able to determine other barriers such as needing a state ID, driver’s license, county assistance, foster care status, and parent/pregnant services.

    Listening and observing are probably two techniques that I use when doing orientation and working with these customers. Not only having them fill out the form but reviewing it with them to go over exactly what barriers they have, and how we can help or who we can refer them to. And then noticing what they’re coming in with and how they’re dressed and referring them to our clothing store to get clothes for employment or general wear.

  30. stnavarro says:

    1. To whom in your local area do you refer them for this assistance?
    In the case of a client needing assistance for housing and meals, for immediate housing support we have our homeless shelter, 40 Prado for the San Luis Obispo City, area 5 Cities Homeless Coalition for the South County and Echo for North County. Safe Parks are available in both south and north county. It’s important to have a print out and help the client make the call and know who he/she is speaking too. Within the shelter, the client can also be provided a warm meal, but in our community we have the San Luis Obispo County Food Bank that has numerous locations for canned food, warm meals or perishable goods. At SLO AJCC,we have our Department of Social Services Workforces Specialist who can provide meal bags at the center in the extreme case of immediate support of a meal. If a client needs assistance for rent support, we have the House Authority of San Luis Obispo, but this is typically a lengthy process and requires a waiting list. When referring is important to provide the name and have a client complete an 815 release of information form, always making sure them reach out to the
    2. What techniques have you found especially helpful to use in an intake interview to discover barriers that a customer might be facing?
    First, having an authentic warmth is key, you have to make sure you show the client your true intention of non-judgement, caring behavior and that you are truly there for them. There is nothing worse than not having a notepad and taking notes when they are trying to explain their situations. You have to use your listening skills and reflecting skills to make sure you truly understand the client’s verbal and non-verbal cue. You should have open ended questions and be able to guide the conversation to be able to have the client to open up about their barriers and strengths.
    3. Describe 1-2 techniques you use that work well for you.
    The greatest technique that works for me is reflecting. I believe that when a client is facing many challenges, having someone listen to them and reflect on their story, makes the client feel the connection and understood.

  31. kfishbach says:

    If I had a client that made an appointment with me and needs help with housing and meals. I would set them up with a referral to Santa Barbara Housing Authority for housing and The Unity Shoppe for food. When we refer the client to Santa Barbara Housing Authority we expect them to get help applying for housing and the case managers can help them apply for housing online. Santa Barbara Housing Authority services clients in section 8, seniors, and low income. Their mission at the Santa Barbara Housing Authority is to create safe, affordable, quality housing opportunities for families and individuals while promoting self-sufficiency and neighborhood revitalization. When we refer the client to The Unity Shoppe there is a referral process we have to follow though the unity shoppe. They will give us a form for the client to fill out with what they need such as food. The mission of the unity shoppe is dedicated to provide residents impacted by temporary conditions of poverty, natural disaster or health crisis with resources, including groceries, clothing, and other essentials, that reinforce human dignity and encourage self-sufficiency and independence.

    The technique I have found useful to use in an intake interview is the Objective Assessment, as it gives me a better understanding of the current barriers the client is facing and potentially face in the future.The technique that has work well for me is always ask all questions possible, just in case something was not mentioned in the assessment and that could potentially have an impact on the client.

  32. christinalkuhn says:

    Unfortunately, many of the clients we work with in our community experience housing issues. In our community we are experiencing a housing crisis and it often causes our clients to become homeless. Many are on waiting list, however, there are not enough low income housing to support the need. Nevertheless, we still press on and support the client by giving them information for emergency housing, which can be assisted by their DSS worker. We also provide them with the contact information to HASLO. We provide a resource packet to clients/customers. This packet includes many great resources in our community. The packet also provides location and dates of free showers. I would also discuss with the client the other resources in the packet and explain the 2-1-1. I would inquire if he/she is receiving CalFresh. If not, I would connect the client to our DSS rep to assist with the application. I would also work with our DSS rep to provide the client with one of our emergency food bags. This is available to individuals in an emergency situation.

    I have found that using Motivational Interviewing techniques during an interactions with clients are very helpful. It is important to listen, show empathy, and empower the client to make the changes they desire. Do not be the “fixer”. Look for cues on what stage of change the client is in and anticipate setbacks but handle them with encouraging words.

    Two techniques that I find work well for me is creating an environment that is safe, welcoming, and friendly and using open ended questions to learn more about the client.

  33. carmjones says:

    For clients that would need help finding a job, I would first see if they would be eligible for our program. In order to be eligible for our program we would conduct an intake interview questionnaire to see if they have been unemployed for 27 consecutive weeks, or if they have received a separation notice due to a lay off. In the intake process, I would give the client a questionnaire that would require her to check the boxes that would apply to her. Such as being unemployed for 27 weeks, or if when was her last job, what was the annual income for the previous job, were you laid off, or did you receive a separation notice from your last employer. These will be some of the questions that would be asked during the intake process. If they are qualified through our program, they will make enough income to be able to provide housing assistance or meal assistance. Before getting hired if they need help with housing assistance there are many areas around Southern Georgia that will provide services such as churches, and organizational community centers. They have many varieties of grants that can help those who are in need. They provide services for Rental assistance as well as bill assistance. I would provide them with phone numbers of different organizations that would help them with rental assistance as well as things they need paid for. For food assistance, I would direct them to the SNAP services website so they can apply for the program for food assistance. With her being unemployed she would have a good chance for approval of the program.

  34. Jacqueline.Sharrah says:

    When a customer comes into our center and makes an appointment with me. I always find out what it is that they need first. So in the case that a customer not only needs to find work, but to have assistance with gaining housing and meals, I always give them further assistance. Since our center does not offer housing or meals under our grants, I always refer to social services or DSS. With DSS if the claimant is not making any money or they’re only earning a small amount, they are able to be applicable for food, stamps, energy assistance, and emergency cash assistance.

    The techniques that I have found especially helpful to use an intake or in a triage interview to discover any barriers of a customer might be facing is starting out by asking them why they are here today. Most people reply that they need to find a job, or find résumé assistance , etc. I have found that it helps a great deal to ask them if they thought about training, as well as how proficient they are on the computer. Many answers will say that they can do it. However, if they cannot, I will set them up with training for the computer so that would take care of one barrier. While talking this opens up windows for other issues. Usually a person will flow with any problems that they have after stating one issue being a problem. So in answering a tough question such as “are you homeless?”, This can prompt them to tell you their situation. Asking a person if they’re homeless it’s very difficult to ask, so these open ended questions work for themselves. If they are homeless at the time I would give them a couple options of shelters that operate in our area. If they are not homeless, and they’re just looking for something cheaper, I would let them know of some government assisted funding in the area or some section 8 housing. I have found that that’s really all that I need to do in order to discover any barriers.

    Some techniques that work well for me are first of all to be approachable. I am as friendly as I can be, and I am very inviting. When people come in and they need assistance, not only with a job, but to find a house and meals, this is a very hard time in their life. These customers in particular, need to be handled very carefully. We want to assure them that everything will be OK and we want to assure them that they are in the right place to receive assistance. So by just being kind, and down to earth, you are establishing rapport. Building rapport has always been fairly easy for me as well as being on the persons level that you were speaking to. I try to always put myself in their shoes and I respond to them the way I would like to be responded to and I always let them know that I’m listening and that I care.

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