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Barrier Breakers: Advocacy, Linking, & Letting Go Misty Miller, MSW, CIRS Traci Byrd, CIRS 2-1-1 Texas/United Way of Greater Houston AIRS Annual Training.

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Presentation on theme: "Barrier Breakers: Advocacy, Linking, & Letting Go Misty Miller, MSW, CIRS Traci Byrd, CIRS 2-1-1 Texas/United Way of Greater Houston AIRS Annual Training."— Presentation transcript:

1 Barrier Breakers: Advocacy, Linking, & Letting Go Misty Miller, MSW, CIRS Traci Byrd, CIRS Texas/United Way of Greater Houston AIRS Annual Training & Education Conference Wednesday, May 26, 2010

2 Workshop Objectives Review AIRS standards on follow-ups and advocacy To explore creative problem solving through Barrier Breakers, quality assurance, and advocacy processes within the context of I&R The value and necessity of 360˚ communication

3 Who we are… United Way of Greater Houston Texas –Statewide network Largest call volume in Texas –121,000 in 2003 –732,500 in 2009 –Over 600% increase in 6 years 70 staff members dedicated to I&R 24 hours, 7 days


5 2-1-1 Texas/United Way Staff

6 Draw a Vacation…

7 Follow-Ups

8 AIRS Standard 5: Follow-Up The I&R service shall have a policy that addresses the conditions under which follow-up must be conducted. The policy shall mandate follow-up, when feasible, with inquirers in endangerment situations and in situations where the specialist believes that inquirers do not have the necessary capacity to follow through and resolve their problems. Additional assistance in locating or accessing services may be necessary.

9 Why Follow-Up? AIRS Standards require centers that are accredited to perform follow-up on a portion of their calls Follow-up provides important information –Gaps in services in the community –Accuracy of the resource database –Quality assurance of the I&R agency

10 Goal of Follow-Ups Determine if the caller was able to get their need(s) met through resources given by or through other means Determine that callers who contact are treated with professionalism and respect Gather resource information; Further advocacy if needed

11 Who Needs Follow-Up? Persons who are complaining about a service No resources available to meet the caller need Child or elder abuse is suspected Persons who may be a threat to themselves and refused a transfer to a mental health hotline

12 Who Needs Follow-Up? Callers who may not be able to follow- through with referrals due to a barrier –Language –Transportation –Confusion/Mental health issues –Health-related barriers Any other caller who is willing to conduct a follow up survey

13 Follow-Up Framework Each full-time call specialist required to schedule 1 follow-up per 4 hours of work or 10 per week Specialists expected to use professional judgment when trying to determine if someone would participate or and/or benefit from a follow- up call and/or questionnaire (quality assurance) Our agency is continually looking to improve service. Would you be available for a follow-up call sometime within the next 10 days?

14 More Details When follow-up calls are made, messages or voic s should not be left with third parties Three attempts are made before a follow-up is closed out Leave brief notes on the follow-up screen so the team can understand which person should follow-up –Only speaks Spanish –Hard of hearing

15 Advocacy Ricardo Steele, Veterans I&R Specialist Nick Huber, Loaned Executive

16 AIRS Standard 3: Inquirer Advocacy The I&R service shall offer advocacy, when necessary, to ensure that people receive the benefits and services for which they are eligible. Inquirer advocacy efforts seek to meet individual needs without attempting to change social institutions and, for purposes of these standards, does not include system advocacy or legislative advocacy (lobbying). All advocacy efforts shall be consistent with written policies established by the governing body of the I&R service and shall proceed only with the permission of the inquirer.

17 Advocacy Definition: The act of pleading or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause, idea, or policy; active support. (The American Heritage Dictionary, 4th edition, 2000) Advocacy takes over when empowerment isnt enough

18 System Advocacy System advocacy involves advocating on the needs of a community or area based on the information gathered through caller contact System advocacy is NOT lobbying Examples: –Writing letters to the local newspapers editorial section –Testimony before review committees or legislative bodies –Agency annual reports (need to describe the need for services)

19 Individual Advocacy Reasons to advocate or intervene: –Needs help to establish eligibility or to obtain needed services –Has been denied benefits or services to which they are entitled –Need assistance to communicate their needs to a service provider or otherwise represent themselves –Has a complaint about a service

20 When to Advocate Individual faces barriers to receiving services –Language –Age –Physical or Developmental Disabilities –Communication Issues –Emotional/Mental Health Situations –Poverty –Endangerment

21 Who is involved? Advocate intervenes on behalf of the client with the decision-maker Decision Maker Advocate Client

22 Why Advocate? Advocacy involves changing the pattern of decision making, thus attempting to increase the probability of a specific decision being reached. (Social Work Processes, 4th Ed., 1989) Some social service professionals act/react differently when working with another professional in the field than they do when working directly with the client

23 Advocacy Strategies General approach toward intervention In I&R the most common means is when advocate and client have a basic understanding about the need & how to approach getting the need met. Could include: –Letter writing & phone calls –Agency site visits –Bargaining or negotiation –Building and maintaining strong relationships –Bug and Beg

24 Assessing the Approach Who is the client? What methods has the client tried? What service do they need first or which barrier needs to be met in order for others to fall into place? Are there contacts at the agency that can meet this need? How open is the agency to advocacy efforts? What approaches have worked in the past with this agency?

25 Advocacy Scenarios A mother of three calls for referrals for her rent. The agency that should be able to meet her need has given her inaccurate information about their rental assistance program, claiming that funds are not available. Yet, at a meeting only two days prior, the agency announced the availability of rental assistance funds on television. How do you proceed?

26 Advocacy Scenarios An elderly man calls for help with prescriptions. He was released from the hospital yesterday and sounds quite frail. He has no family in the area who can assist him. He does not think he can drive to pick up the medications, even if he could afford to pay for them. Do you advocate? How?

27 Advocacy Scenarios A frequent caller of the I&R service has a complaint about an agency in the community. Although many programs are aware of this woman and her previous attempts to misuse the system, this time her complaint seems legitimate. She feels that she was denied electric bill assistance inappropriately, even though she clearly fit the criteria. She feels the action is one of the agencys intake worker not liking her rather than assessing her based on her current situation. Do you advocate? How?

28 Barrier Breakers 2010 First Quarter Barrier Breakers: Allison Marek, Rachelle Alridge, & Anabelle Dominguez with Misty Miller

29 Background As part of our mission to impact our community through effective and accurate I&R, we want to move forward in creating and implementing team strategies by empowering individuals and families thus breaking barriers via our follow-up calls and advocacy procedures.

30 Barrier Breakers Follow-up and advocate (when needed), in order to eliminate barriers to service Rotating team of 3-4 I&R specialists that serve on a quarterly basis Vary group experience and language levels Leader will meet with team as needed to staff cases

31 Strategies Empowerment Joint Planning Self Determination Advocacy/Barrier-Breaking Shining Stars

32 Certificate of Appreciation Allison Marek In appreciation for your commitment to enhancing I&R through your Follow-up and Advocacy, we present this Shining Star certificate. Awarded on May 11, Texas/United Way Helpline David Jobe, LMSW, CIRSSandra Ray, CIRS Director Manager

33 360˚ Communication Outreach Coordinator Barrier Breakers Resource Coordinator Resource Team Call Specialists

34 Helpful Reminders Universalizing responses –Most working moms like yourself have the same fear you do about being laid off or losing their benefits if they take a maternity leave. Strengths perspective responses –Identifying and affirming –Its amazing how much you got done with no support. Conveying warmth & caring while being realistic If you give a hungry person a fish, they will eat for a day. But if you teach him or her to fish, they will eat for a lifetime – if there are fish. Taking care while giving care: What can you do to diminish the impact of work-stress in your life?

35 Share & Tell Whats working at your center? Whats not working at your center? Whats something new you learned today? What could you feasibly implement tomorrow?

36 THANK YOU! Misty Miller, Outreach Coordinator (713) Traci Byrd, Resource Coordinator (713)

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