Career Development Forum – March 2021 Cohort

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.

45 thoughts on “Career Development Forum – March 2021 Cohort”

  1. Jaleen Walker says:

    To whom in your local area do you refer them for this assistance?
    I do not make referrals in my job capacity, but it was a priority for me as a former social worker. 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 foodservice needs. I would also utilize the community resources such as food banks, clothing drives, homeless shelters, and local agencies that assist community members in need, such as our library’s summer meal programs during summer months.

    Being a professional who helps others requires me to assume nothing and make sure that a thorough assessment of my customer’s needs is conducted. It would be a disservice for me to focus on workplace needs alone, particularly in the community I work in with lots of challenging conditions. 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.

    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.

    There are two skills I when conducting intake interviews to determine barriers. The initial technique would be using 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. When a customer believes that you are genuinely trying to assist them, they open up and share a lot of personal information.

    Professionalism is crucial and ensuring that the client-customer relationship is ethical and appropriate. To ensure a balance between relationship-building and needs assessments- I would also use the close-ended question technique. When asking direct close-ended questions, I may get the immediate answers that I need, thus determining the best way to service them effectively. Additionally, some clients need straightforward questions that allow them to be direct about their needs, desires ad goals.

    1. Holly Peoples says:

      Hi Roy,
      Open ended questions are one of those great techniques, putting someone at ease is important for that relationship. We also have a variety of fath based entities that can assist with a place to sleep or a voucher for a room, they are incredibly valueable for people who are in a difficult situation.

    2. Wilma Rivera-Rios says:

      Hi Roy and Holly,
      I agree with you both with the close-ending question technique. I would like to add that often times, the client in need hurries to get to the point and rushes in to a solution that might create additional barriers. The intake interview process with an closed-ending questions will be helpful for the client to slowdown and also it will assist the client and myself in obtaining a clear focus on past and present issues in order to target and remove those barriers.

  2. Roy Savoca says:

    The Daytona area is very faith based. I would refer them to one of the local church based organizations for help with housing and meals. I would probe a little to determine if their background aligns with any of the local groups. I have found one of the most effective methods is casual conversation. The first step is to put the person at ease by engaging in small talk. After the person is relaxed and comfortable I would give them the opportunity to discuss their situation. The next step would be to ask questions which will start the person talking about the barriers they face.

    1. Mari Schupp says:

      We have a few churches that we can refer to also, but sometimes I forget that they are in existence. It seems like we utilize the same paths and don’t think outside the box to engage some of those smaller, less known opportunities.

    2. rrleeper says:

      Where I am located we also have a program that houses families overnight during our winter months that is based at local churches throughout our community. I would also be referring if the family met the criteria. I agree that giving participants a safe space to talk about their situation, opens up the conversation for you to ask more in-depth questions to gain more information about the families situation.

    3. nllockwood says:

      Faith-based organizations are always appreciated.

  3. Holly Peoples says:

    We have scattered service providers throughout our region with some communities where there are no services for the hungry or those experiencing homelessness. Some examples of providers where they exist include: The LINK, Feeding America Trucks and food banks, Room at the Inn, HUD, Salvation Army, DHHS, various faith based entities, County based veterans services, Tribal resources.
    It has been many years since I did an intake interview but what I would say here is that building a relationship that has healthy boundaries would be the primary technique to use. We have a couple of people on our staff who have had training and certification in Motivational Interviewing. This technique is also what our Michigan Rehabilitation Services partners use and has had a lot of success. Empathy is another key to obtaining information about how to develop a trusting working relationship.
    While I do not work directly with job seeking customers or non-work ready customers, I do have a team of people that I support each day to help them navigate the systems and have the tools and resources they need to do their jobs effectively. I think these relationships are similar to helping job seekers achieve goals. I think it is important to get to know people and understand what it is they value about work. It is important to give and receive feedback regularly and take action on that feedback, so people know they are truly being heard. It is also important to hold people accountable for what they are responsible for doing, these concepts are true when assisting job seekers as well.

    1. Roy Savoca says:

      Hi Holly. We have a salvation Army facility here in our area, I did not even think of them until you mentioned them. They are often not thought about, unless it is at Christmas time. Building a relationship is very important. People in the situation described need to know someone is on their side. You mentioned holding people accountable, I believe this is very important. It goes towards having a person feel they are being listened to.

    2. Shawna Brooks says:

      I love that you have a team of resources that can readily assist an individual with these needs. These community relations are essential to helping job seekers and honestly being successful as a workforce worker and provider. Having these strong relationships do help build confidence in job seekers and ultimately that makes them more employable. I don’t work directly with any of the services I mentioned either, however, I think the value is in being able to have access and provide access to the resource for others. I also love that you mentioned accountability, because that is a large part of longevity in results for job seekers. Being accountable for your personal decisions and effort can take them along way.

    3. mcervantes says:

      I can relate to the regions that do not have services for the hungry or those experiencing homelessness. What is even more unfortunate in our small rural community is that the only shelter in existence only provides room and board for males. We used to have a shelter for women but it was closed down a few years back due to the lack of funding. We do have other organizations in our community that may provide assistance and potentially transportation to another region that has shelters but we are looking at approximately 70 miles outside of our county.
      I as well as you, do not necessarily work directly with intake process, but I work closely with Career advisors in identifying and addressing barriers.

  4. Mari Schupp says:

    Local tribal entities and our local university has a food bank that is exclusively for their members/students. It is exclusive funds, though, and not open to the full community. The Community Action Agency and Salvation Army provides assistance in the community that isn’t tied to any specific population. Going through the intake process, it is a few of the questions that are asked to ensure all the assistance can be tapped into. We ask questions to get a full 360 degree view of the person and it is done through developing a relationship that doesn’t seem overburdening to them. It may take multiple meetings to get the full view, but the investment can be beneficial in providing the best assistance to the participant.

  5. Aaron Leson says:

    Great work you guys. Insightful and thorough. Thank you.

  6. Shawna Brooks says:

    If I had an individual who was seeking working but also needed housing and meals, I would start but getting all of their information. I would provide help with setting up all the necessary online profiles with family services and help them start an application for food stamps. Next, I would provide a list of places that the individual can go to receive open pantry food goods. Lastly, I would provide a list of churches and programs that help with housing and shelter needs. I find it extremely important to help with the personal issues first because these issues will stem as potential barriers and make it hard for that individual to maintain work even when they do find employment.
    Two techniques that I have found helpful during the intake process are completing a personal interview and a basic skills assessment. This allows you to explore the background of an individual so that you can help expand on their future. I believe there is not enough value placed on that first initial interview, but it truly is the most important step in my opinion. The more you know about a person the more you are able to tailor services and help them specifically to address their needs. The basic skills assessment is also essential to providing appropriate services and making the best placement suggestions.

    1. Melina Lopez says:

      We refer our participants base on their needs, access, and location in which they live. The referrals are mental health, food pantry, legal advocacy, child care, substance abuse, shelter, medical, and social services. It is rare when a participant has to be referred to a place that is over 20 miles distance. Most of them are within the local nearby towns. However, if a participant is moving out of town or state and needs assistance, we then search for social services that will be close to them. Our participants tend to be referred to us from nearby local school districts, libraries, and local college.

      The first initial technique that I have found to be helpful is meeting the participant where they are at making a transition to using Client Centered Therapy. With Client Centered, we provide Empathy, congruence, privacy, and independence. Throughout the intake we mostly used open-ended questions, reflect, and summarize.

      An initial technique that is helpful for me is to treat each participant as new individual that is coming in with no similarities from the rest of the participants. Inform and educate on expectations and services of the program along with clarifying. Listen to the participant and make suggestions but not pressure into making decisions.
      Throughout the enrollment, as the time passes by, continue to maintain contact with the participant and ask open-ended questions, educate and inform, and always summarize. In my experience, most participants require information to be educate and give scenarios (examples) for them to understand and grasp. I do not assume and tell them to not assume as well. In my conversations with them, I tell them to continue to ask questions even if it is the same one and only a day has passed.

      1. Debb Brunell says:

        Melina it sounds like you have a very practical and consistent way to deal with each of your customers! I like the concept of Client Centered Therapy and how you are asking open-ended questions and listening to the answers. I’m sure you are very effective with your clients, they are lucky to have you!

    2. Melina Lopez says:

      I agreed with your post. My interpretation of your post is that as a staff, we look beyond (outside of the box), putting the puzzle together, providing the services as best needed and obtainable, no assumptions and open door policy.

  7. Wilma Rivera-Rios says:

    When a client expresses the need for resources such as housing and meal, I provide them with a Resource Guide that we have created that contains all the resources information provided in Philadelphia area and surrounding. The resource guide consist of information about services, location, hours of operation, and documentation required to be able to receive the assistance. Our Certified Medical Assistance (CMA) updates our resource guide and provides us with it once a week via email. I also refer the client to the clinical department which the client will be assigned to a Case Coordinator who provide clinical services and assist them with resources if needed.
    The technique I use in an intake interview to discover barriers that the client might be facing are the following: firstly, I review the enrollment package and the intake form prior meeting with the client face-to-face. by reviewing the intake form, it will help me to prepare and formulate questions prior to meeting with the client. it is very helpful to have the knowledge in advanced about the client’s education, family and status relationship, employment background, client’s biggest success and challenges. Once I review the intake interview, I place a phone call to setup an appointment to meet the client face-to-face.
    Secondly, In my initial meeting, I introduce myself and start a non- related topic conversation, for example: “The weather is gorgeous today! and it looks like its like its going to continue for the rest of the week, do you have any plans for this weekend?”…or another example, if the client has a book that they are reading, I will ask what is the book about? I can learn a lot about the client by what they read.
    Thirdly, Once a establish the trust, and I the client seems to feels comfortable with me, then I proceed to conduct the initial session by asking questions that are not in the intake form to be able to learn more about the client and to discover barriers that the client might be facing and the client decided not addressed in the intake form for any giving reason. During the initial session, I try to ascertain their goals and any barriers they foresee. I observe the non- verbal behavioral that the client might exhibit and will document it after the initial session is over and the client is out of my office. If the client expresses that they don’t have a career plan, I will introduce and assist the client with a self-assessment for self exploration and career discovery. Then the client and I will discuss the assessment results, and make a plan to achieve those goal. The written information and the verbal exchange will lay the foundation of engagement between the client and myself.

  8. Debb Brunell says:

    We have strong partnerships in our region and so I would reach out to a few of them to find the best fit for the need. Community Action Agencies, Salvation Army, Local Food Banks, and the Department of Health and Human Services would be a few of the places I would call. We also have a homeless shelter that can provide temporary housing if that is needed. This customer is putting trust in me by sharing this personal information and seeking help and I would focus on the housing and food needs first. But I would be sure to discuss their mental health and start the discussions about how we can look forward together and make a plan that works.

    Listening and following through with what you say you will do can make or break the relationship. Having a client’s best interests in mind and being committed shows you are trustworthy. This will be a case that takes time to work through each of the barriers to focus on the immediate needs at the time.

  9. 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.

    1. ambuehler says:

      Timothy, your background sounds interesting! I always forgot that the EAP line can be a tool for people who are eligible for it with thru their work. Helping skills is such a broad term and we really utilize so much being in a service provider role. Do you every find yourself at time to empathetic? I do have cases that I get more attached to, and working on my work place boundaries and coping skills I hope will help me in this area. Your close ended questions I am sure is amazing to get immediate answers, do you feel like it provides an accurate snapshot of what your participant may be experiencing?

    2. biancadrewery says:

      Hello Timothy,

      I think offering empathy and leveraging your helping skills is a great way to connect with those who may need help but are not sure how to ask for it. I also like having direct communication with those I serve so there is no mistake as to what their needs are and the challenges they face. I also like to conduct follow up with both the customer and the agency as well. For both, this informs them that I care about the customers that come in and that I want to help them with their needs. For the customer more importantly, I want them to know that they have an ally in me. Someone who wants to provide and support on their job/career journey!

  10. ambuehler says:

    I am currently transitioning to a new role working with dislocated workers due to the on going pandemic get back into the work force. Part f this grant, luckily covers me to be able to pay for housing, provide gift cards or do instacart orders for foods, pay for childcare, provide work clothing, and meet transportation needs by either paying for car insurance and providing gas cards, giving uber cards, or providing a bus pass. If I was not in this role we also have these services in house with our 477 program. If additional needs for food and housing were needed that I could not provide I would refer them to our local food book, provide the monthly food bank distribution list, provide a SNAP benefit application, and refer the to FISH which here in Anchorage is a food delivery pantry. To work with individuals to do my best to meet their needs I take a conversational approach and let them know in the beginning that my goal is to assist you in self sufficiency and discuss what that would look like for them. I start off with what I could potentially provide then go over what needs they may have that go unmet. If children are in the home I make sure to ask if the child has winter clothing, school clothes, any support for youth services, and childcare if needed. Two approaches I use to work best with participants is I take a conversational approach as if I am just here to help you succeed here is potentially how I can do that and how would you like your plan to look like. The second technique I use is when evaluating asking open ended questions that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. For example You stated before your goal is to get a job in retail. What is it about retail that you enjoy?

  11. biancadrewery says:

    As a former WIA Adult & Youth Employment Services Specialist and now a Career Planning Services Provider, I would encourage my customer to apply for benefits through the Department Of Human Services for both housing and food assistance. I would also mention local shelters, gender appropriate non-profit/public housing as well as Food Gatherers and Hope Clinic if they reside in Washtenaw County.

    My technique would include small talk (asking how their day is going? if they would like something to drink like water or coffee?; then explain that in order to properly serve them that I would need to ask a series of questions. The questions are meant to provide help and not judgement. As the customer answers the questions, I will listen carefully, offer my undivided attention and ask any follow-up questions for more clarity.

    Below are the questions, I would ask:
    To determine a customer’s need for public assistance, I would begin with 1. What brings you in today? 2. If job searching, how’s that been going for you? 3. Are you experiencing any other challenges, homelessness and food insecurity? 4. Would you be interested in learning more about agencies in the area could provide support?

    After this process, I will provide a list of agency resources and ask if there were any the customer was most interested in. If so, I would ask the customer if it was okay to call on their behalf to inform the agency that the customer will be making contact soon. I will also inform the customer that I would be following up with them and agency to make sure the connection had been made.

    1. karen.shores says:

      I agree with your approach. I was surprised to see that it is basically the same as mine! It is important to generate a warm, non-judgmental environment where we can listen carefully and focus on clarifying the barriers and the needs. It is good to have a list of agencies and contact information ready to provide to the client for addressing their immediate needs. It is nice that you offer to make a call to follow up for them with the agency.

  12. mcervantes says:

    Familiarizing ourselves with community resources is imperative in delivering services. Creating partnerships with these local agencies, develops strong dependable pathways to success. If a customer comes in looking for work and discloses the need for assistance with housing and meals, I feel committed to helping the individual overcome these barriers. For immediate housing needs, If the individual is male, I would refer him to our local shelter which offers rooms and hot meals. Finding housing assistance for females becomes more challenging, because we do not have any local shelters for women. In which case, I would refer her to other agencies such Wellness Connection, a church and/or offer the possibility of shelters in surrounding areas. If the customer has a place to live but needs assistance to prevent eviction, I would refer him/her to other local organizations such as SEACAP and the Food Bank for assistance.

    Not all individuals feel comfortable discussing barriers, therefore, I strongly believe that it is our responsibility to create a safe caring environment based on trust. Clients will feel welcomed and comfortable talking to us in this environment, facilitating the opportunity for me to ask questions to learn more about our clients. Listening is a vital technique in this learning process. I need to listen patiently and carefully, picking up on details that may prompt open ended questions to learn more. Lastly, confirming that I’m understanding their circumstance is very important prior to demonstrating empathy and referring them to respective services.
    Besides building trust, one of the techniques that works best is simply asking myself “Why”.
    • Why was he/she so confused?
    • Why was he/she so upset?
    • Why did he/she mention walking such a long distance?
    • Why is he/she only willing to work at night?
    • Why is he/she not filling out documents
    Observing and listening carefully may raise concerns that lead to deeper, meaningful conversations.

    1. ayang says:

      I agree. Not all customers/clients are comfortable speaking openly about themselves and can be sensitive topics for them. I always keep an open mind, am empathetic and sympathize with clients. There is no judgement and by being open, this allows clients to be more open and speak more freely. It’s always great asking questions and trying to understand. This shows clients that you truly care and want to help them.

  13. ayang says:

    1. To whom in your local area do you refer them for this assistance?
    For housing and meals we have relationships with multiple agencies/sources. For housing, one referral would be to Alaska Housing Finance Corporation. Our company provides support services to clients for rent and food. We also refer clients to Food Banks like Alaska Food Bank.

    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.

    Intake interviews are helpful in determining the needs for a client. Asking open-ended questions and actively listening, showing empathy and understanding helps clients open up with what services they’re looking for and what they need. By sympathizing and listening to clients, I am able to better assess their needs and provide the services and referrals that would better suit them and have addressed.

  14. rrleeper says:

    I would refer my clients to our local housing authorities such as Cook Inlet housing authority, Alaska housing, and neighbor works. Through these agencies individuals are able to apply for housing vouchers and low income housing units. When completing an intake with a participant we use an assessment that includes a series of questions that help us get to know our participants and learn about any barriers that they may experience.

  15. nllockwood says:

    When a participant requests assistance accessing resources for housing, we are able to provide referrals directly to Cook Inlet Housing Authority. Resources for food include, information about local food banks, and supportive services for food gift cards. I have found interview-style assessments valuable for determining barriers to employment.

  16. MGonzalez11 says:

    In situations like this, I believe that we need to know what is available in our communities. Here in Nogales, we have a small community, which in a way can be helpful in a way. A smaller community seems to be easier to know in a sense when looking for different resources to people in need. I have not yet had anyone in this particular situation come in for services or seeking assistance. If it were to happen, I would look closely at the situation. I would be attentive and make sure that I There is a center here that does assist males with housing and meals. We could refer individuals to our local food bank. Unfortunately, there are no local shelters for females that I know of. I would really have to dig to see what would be available in such a case. If need be, I would call different agencies around town to help a female client in such a case. One extra step I plan on taking with getting familiar with the organizations around town, I would stop by at these locations and gather information to be ready for situations like this.
    It is difficult to imagine what may be going on inside someone’s mind when in a situation like this. Looking back at the lessons prior, it comes to mind how important it is to utilize what we have learned and use the tools we gained. We will need to actively listen, use empathy, and educate ourselves in our local area to help someone out. The last thing I would want to do is turn someone away because of something I may not know. I want to make sure that no matter how difficult a situation is, I will see it through.

  17. karen.shores says:

    A customer makes an appointment with you to find work. The individual needs assistance with housing and meals.
    1. To whom in your local area do you refer them for this assistance?
    First, I would contact our Navigator, Eric Banuelos. He is always in touch with the services, organizations, and individuals that can assist our clients. A call from Eric to the people with whom he networks, is an advantage to getting the help the clients need.
    I would also recommend contacting the Yolo County Health and Human Services department to apply for food stamps. (916) 874-2072, and I would provide information about local food closets for immediate assistance with food.
    The Homeless Services of Yolo County ( › health-human-services › homeless-services) provides housing assistance and referrals for Yolo County residents
    2. What techniques have you found especially helpful to use in an intake interview to discover barriers that a customer might be facing?
    Initially, I ask open-ended questions related to employment, living situation, family, and challenges. Then using attending, listening skills, and targeted statements/questions I seek to ascertain the primary barriers facing the client. I try to weed out the root-cause barriers from the client’s reactions to them such as annoyances, attitudes, despair, and other strong emotions.
    3. Describe 1-2 techniques you use that work well for you.
    Creating a welcoming, friendly, calm, and interested demeanor and atmosphere helps the client to relax and feel comfortable. That facilitates them talking and sharing information needed for me to assist them.
    I facilitate trust by verbalizing back to the client, the key issues for which he/she is seeking assistance – showing that I listened and understand. I ask for clarification in case I misunderstood and show appreciation for any corrections provided to me. I also make sure that while I am friendly, I am professional at all times and work with the client to develop a plan to move forward to address their needs and their barriers.

    1. bianca.solorio says:

      Hi Karen,

      I like the services you provided, they are great local agencies that we could seek for support. In my post I spoke about another agency like Yolo county children’s alliance, that help individual in needs, especially families seeking housing resources. I would agree with your techniques. It is always good to look at peoples barriers as there can be more to just seeking a job and needing an income. Most of the time the barriers such as not having transportation play a part into job seeking, as this would mean that the individual would have to seek for something local with access to public transportation.

  18. mcastillo says:

    1. I would ask with all respect the reason why he is not employed if he was laid off or if place of employment closed. I would also ask about his skills so I could assist him better. First I would offer him training, and get him started, if he does not interested in training. I would refer him to DES Employment Services in which is in our building. I would let him know he is welcome to use our resource room to use computers to submit application for employment. I would make a referral to Housing Authority and SEACAP they would be able to assist him with housing and also the Cross Road Mission, for meals I would refer him to DES so he can apply for food stamps. I would give him information on the Community food Bank.

    2. Techniques I have found helpful to use in an intake interview are the open and ended questions relating to employment and obstacles they are facing. I also use listening skills, attending skills and empathy.

    3. Techniques that work well for me is Empathy, Respectful, this helps client have trust in me and makes client feel more at ease. Client will share more information on his needs and this will help me develop a plan to overcome his barriers.

  19. mcastillo says:

    I also agree on the Faith-based organizations, they will always assist any one in their needs.

    1. kiah.featherstone says:

      Faith based organizations are a great resource that I did not consider for this question. Thank you for bringing this up!

  20. bianca.solorio says:

    1. To whom in your local area do you refer them for this assistance?
    working with an individual who is in need of these services, I would link them up to agencies like CalWORKs, Cal fresh, Yolo county Children’s alliance, and the Local food bank. The Yolo county children’s alliance is a local agency that has case management services for families and individuals that would help support obtaining Cal fresh and housing resources. If the individual has youth in their care they would qualify for Cal-works that can qualify them for motel vouchers. With a youth in care it would also be beneficial to link them up with the school McKinney-Vento Liaison at the school. Provide the local food bank information to the families or individual and the local emergency shelter if needed.

    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.
    Techniques that have found helpful during an intake is to utilize open-ended question, having empathy while actively listening. This can help support with identifying the client’s needs outside of the job search and linking them up to additional service. Usually when an individual is seeking for a job there is a lot more needs so being open to hearing them out and really actively listening without creating an agenda right them an there. For example, as a helping profession we also go to the solution without the client even being done with what they have to say so being present is key to active listening.

    1. karen.swan says:

      Hi Bianca,
      Great reminder about Yolo County Children’s Alliance. Because they come up in my work really only in relation to WIOA Youth Employment, I had forgotten that they serve so many needs of families throughout Yolo County. Also, we previously had a student whose family obtained motel vouchers, but I didn’t know the details– good tip about Cal-Works. I also like your approach of trying to identify the client’s needs outside of the job search so you can help address the full picture, because there is often a lot more to the picture than the job search needs. However, as you mentioned in your reply to Karen Shores, people are not always ready to open up about their needs and will need the empathy, active listening and open-ended questions to get them there. And of course, good reminder to not prematurely offer solutions!

  21. bianca.solorio says:

    Hi Karen,

    I like the services you provided, they are great local agencies that we could seek for support. In my post I spoke about another agency like Yolo county children’s alliance, that help individual in needs, especially families seeking housing resources. I would agree with your techniques. It is always good to look at peoples barriers as there can be more to just seeking a job and needing an income. Most of the time the barriers such as not having transportation play a part into job seeking, as this would mean that the individual would have to seek for something local with access to public transportation.

  22. kiah.featherstone says:

    In our school district, we refer students to their site councilor and or the student support center. This is the first line of support for students and families. We utilize this level to identify the struggles or assistance needed, and who can most directly assist them with their challenges. From here, students and families will be connected with the district service or community organization(s) that can help tackle whatever they are facing. The techniques I have found most useful in an initial conversation regarding barriers is utilizing the helping skills, especially listening and reflecting. I also always lead with warmth and empathy to build rapport. Building trust is important for people to open up and share what they are truly experiencing and struggling with.

    1. eric.banuelos says:

      Kiah, these are great techniques when working with those that need help it could be hard for them to come to one to seek assistance so being warm and building that rapport is crucial.

  23. eric.banuelos says:

    Answer these questions:

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

    I would be sure that the customer has all available resources to address all the needs. I would start with a very cool resource that our local Food Bank has started and that is texting OLIVE to 888777, this will send the customer daily distribution information in Woodland. If they are in other areas in Yolo County there are other texting key words for West Sacramento they would text GRAPE to the same number. I would also ask if they have any children under the age of 5 if so, then refer them to WIC and also in the same office I would refer them to apply for Cal Fresh. I think with those resources the food insecurity needs would be addressed. To address the housing need, I would refer to a local non profit Empower Yolo, housing department. Empower Yolo could assist with the housing search as they work with many property management companies and private owners as well. The housing department at Empower Yolo is able to assist with a deposit as well as up to 6 months of rental assistance. I would even suggest that they get on a low income housing waitlist with Yolo County Housing Authority. Now to address the employment situation, I would ask why not currently employed was it due to lay off. If so assist with applying for unemployment benefits. Unemployment benefits could take some time to receive, so I would get to updating their resume. I would ask if they are interesting in learning a new trade and reach out to the case workers at Health and Human Service Agency who work with WIOA and could assist with some funds for some training. I would suggest to create a Indeed profile and upload their resume and get this customer back to work. I would also of course keep in close contact and make sure the referrals I made are working out.

    2- The techniques I use and find to be helpful when helping customers are creating a welcoming environment. I have been told that my office is very welcoming. Open ended questions to be sure to address all their needs is very helpful, and just being my genuine self letting them know I will do all I can to help them and really do it.

    1. an.ta says:

      Right on Eric! The texting numbers for the local food bank are an awesome resource! I am going to write down OLIVE to 888777 (Woodland) and GRAPE to 888777 (West Sac). Thanks for sharing that resource!

  24. an.ta says:

    1. To whom in your local area do you refer them for this assistance?
    One of the areas of strength within Yolo County is the variety of support services offered through both government and non-government organizations. When it comes to addressing food insecurity, I would have the client reach out to Yolo Food Bank. I find that Empower Yolo is a solid resource when addressing housing/shelter needs, additional wrap-around services, and counseling. I would also try to introduce the client to my colleagues Eric (17/18+ to adult), Bianca (Foster and/or Homeless Youth), or Kelsey (youth to 18) as additional resource supports.

    2. What techniques have you found especially helpful to use in an intake interview to discover barriers that a customer might be facing?
    During intake interviews, I try to make sure that the client is presented with the most comfortable, safe, and welcoming environment possible. I would also try to address their base physiological needs of food and water before engaging in the work/interview. I would share my story/introduction so that it might promote some dialogue. When engaging in the questioning, I would try to use motivational interviewing techniques and open-ended questions to allow for reflections and in-depth responses.

    3. Describe 1-2 techniques you use that work well for you.
    Something I found useful is building rapport over a discussion while having a non-alcoholic beverage or a meal. Something that I took from my time as a classroom teacher and school administrator was the importance of addressing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (focusing highly on the two base needs of Physiological and Safety). People function and work better when they feel like they are taken care of. The other technique I have used is a walk and talk session to build rapport and trust. There is something unconsciously symbolic about walking, talking, aligning values, and developing a mutual understanding for goals and tasks. I found that these two techniques used over the initial beginning stages have accelerated the buy-in and trust being built, oftentimes cutting down the need for additional follow-up meetings. You get so much more valuable information frontloaded in the initial meetings that you do not need more sessions to continue to build that trust needed for authentic responses.

  25. karen.swan says:

    If it is determined in a client meeting that they need assistance with housing and meals, there are many resources in Yolo County that can help. These include Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency, Empower Yolo, Yolo County Children’s Alliance, Yolo Food Bank, River City Food Bank, 4th and Hope, RISE and the Personal Care Pantry. Because I do not currently manage referrals for these services, I am not up to date on which organizations are offering which services in each area of the county. Therefore, after gathering information from the client about which types of services they would be most be able to access or take advantage of, I would reach out to one of my colleagues who does manage referrals regularly to see if there is one agency or organization who helps with both housing and food access, therefore reducing the calls and visits the client would need to make to get their needs addressed. If would then either ask my colleague (if they knew) or call that agency/org to confirm they are accepting referrals and to find out the steps a client needs to take to access services (e.g. call an intake number, be prepared to answer certain questions, make an appt online, etc.). Then I would review this info with the client and see if they had the resources to follow those steps, and ask if there were any resources I could help with (e.g. access to a computer or a printout of a bus schedule).
    It can be difficult to determine in an intake interview the various needs or barriers a client may be facing. To help make sure a client is comfortable and understands that I am there to help without judgement, I would regularly assess the process of first accessing my services from a clients perspective to see if I could identify the key ingredients of a helping relationship—is it warm and welcoming? Do I show empathy, acceptance and respect in the way I first greet and interact with clients? By looking at my services from a clients perspective, I can hopefully identify where I might be able to add some more of the “key ingredients.” During an intake interview, I would use some of the techniques from the Motivational Interviewing guide and my essential helping skills such as attending, listening and reflecting. Attending can help the client see that I really do want to hear about their story, and by actively listening and reflecting I can make sure I am understanding their needs accurately. I would also ask open-ended questions and not rush to respond, but allow silence so the client can keep talking as they are comfortable. Reflecting and asking “can you tell me a little more about that?” are two techniques that work especially well for me in this process. Reflecting helps both me and the client know that I am understanding their needs accurately, or gives them a chance to correct me if I am not. Asking them to tell me more about something without offering leading questions can encourage them to them share additional information that will help me best understand their needs.

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