We always begin team meetings at Aunt Bertha with our mission statement--"To connect all people in need and the programs that serve them (with dignity and ease)." As part of that mission, we strive to build products that help community based organizations streamline their processes, work together, and most importantly, save time so they can better meet the needs of the people they serve.
We consistently heard from program administrators that they lacked insight into their teammate's schedules and consequently ended up double (or triple) booking intake appointments more often than not. This left helping professionals at these organizations overworked and people in need confused on what was next. We believed there was a better way.
The Appointment Scheduling tool offers a way for claimed community based organizations listed on Aunt Bertha to easilycreate, schedule, and manage appointmentswith people in need of services as a key step in their intake process. Managing appointments can be stressful (on both sides), time consuming, and expensive.Our tool is free and simple to use.
Community Based Organizations will save time, resources, and can:
Benefit from a full history of their work with a person in need, including appointments, all on one platform.
Easily show availability for appointments at your program location(s)
Book appointments on behalf of people in need, or allow them to book for themselves
Schedule appointments for colleagues
Save calendar invites to colleagues' work calendars
People In Need get the dignity of an immediate response and can:
Easily see when and where their appointment is
See what documents or identification they'll need to bring to their appointment
Get reminders via email or text message so they never miss an important appointment.
Interested in adding appointment scheduling to your program listings on Aunt Bertha? We're so glad! Just click below and our team will get you set up.Reminder: Appointment Scheduling is a completely free feature--all you have to do is claim your program listing.
As always, we'd love your feedback on this, and all features on Aunt Bertha. Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Though Alzheimer’s disease is becoming increasingly prevalent as our population ages, much about dementia is misunderstood or unknown. While memory loss is the most common symptom, there are many other changes caused by Alzheimer’s that family and professional caregivers must learn to accommodate. Here are just a few things to keep in mind when interacting with a person with Alzheimer’s.
People with Alzheimer’s not only lose the ability to organize thoughts into sentences in order to communicate, they also forget words, and have trouble understanding written and spoken language. For this reason, when speaking to a person with Alzheimer’s it’s important to speak slowly and use simple sentences, and allow the person plenty of time to form their response. Also, when a person loses their verbal abilities, they will rely more on non-verbal cues. It’s important to always use a soothing tone of voice, keep your facial expressions friendly, and make eye contact when speaking with a person with Alzheimer’s.
People with Alzheimer’s will lose the ability to reason, and to regulate their emotions. As you can imagine, this creates many aggravating situations for a person with Alzheimer’s. When they become agitated, help them shift their attention to something more productive, and never engage in an argument with them. Understand that your reasoning is meaningless to them, and they are coming from a place of fear and confusion, so be patient and compassionate. Whenever possible, reassure the person and change the subject, and don’t take any negativity on their part personally.
People with Alzheimer’s also have trouble processing and filtering sensory stimuli, so it is easy for them to get overstimulated and distracted. If you are trying to engage a person with Alzheimer’s in a conversation or activity, do it in a quiet, calm place without a lot of distractions. During a busy day with lots of activity, plan breaks in the day for the person to rest and de-stress. This will help prevent agitation.
These are just a few helpful reminders for caregivers. For more advice on helping a person with Alzheimer’s, visit the Alzheimer’s Association Capital of Texas website at www.alz.org/texascapital, or call the 24-hour caregiver helpline at 1-800-367-2132.
This guest post is written by Amelia Frank, the Communications and Programs Specialist for the Alzheimer’s Association Capital of Texas Chapter. She draws on her experience as a teacher and nonprofit professional in her role at the Alzheimer’s Association, which includes community outreach, caregiver and community education, media relations, caregiver helpline, and more.
You are the first person to help when people are in physical and emotional pain and crisis, you coordinate blood drives, walks to cure cancer, reunite families, stop children from being abused, and help adults heal from past wounds. You are a:
The Internet is big, important, and a very real factor in how we communicate these days and how we talk about changing the world. There are tons of “experts” on doing good on the web, but not many front line stories from you as a professional. Just because you do social good doesn’t mean you have to flock to the typical social good and new media watering holes. In fact, I think it may be a good ideal to start your own watering holes (or a juice bar, if that’s your style). There are tools and strategies on social media for non-profits, social entrepreneurs, and social workers, but not enough about your story.
Right now, you may have a story on your website about how you came to become an organization, the founders story, and one testimonial about a success story, but that’s not the story I’m talking about.
I’m talking about the story of how the non-profit almost didn’t happen, but you pushed through. I’m talking about the story of you “showing up” after the excitement faded and how you keep yourself motivated. I’m talking about the emotional challenge of working on an issue and experiencing devastating failure.
Not in the spirit of throwing a pity party or glamorizing struggle, but to understand and learn from each other. I trust that your compassion, courage, and bravery could be a light that shines through for those of us who are on the same path.
Starting and growing a mission based company is hard work. Doing mission based work is even harder. Being someone who risks and cares with compassion is a job that could never pay you enough, no matter the salary. It takes persistence, patience, and vision.
How did you do it?
How are you doing it?
Do you want to do it?
We need to hear it. I need to hear it.
Social Media Sucks and an Opportunity
While I’m excited about the possibility of raising money through crowd-funding/sourcing, and I definitely want to grow my Facebook and Twitter pages to connect with my mission, what I’m most excited about is the potential of collaboration with do-gooders all across the world.
People like Gandhi and Martin Luther King were only able to connect via postal mail (it took weeks, sometimes months), phone, or by actually traveling all the way across the world to meet.
Now, I can literally reach out to any do gooder on the entire globe, in seconds!
There appears to be a conversation going on about non-profits and social media, but it is dominated by the mission and not the people behind the mission. It appears to concentrate on the client or supporter and not the homeless aide who makes sure each sheet is clean before families come to the shelter that night.
I’m not saying talking about the mission, recruiting and marketing, and goals are wrong, I’m saying that we’re missing out on a better conversation: human connection.
If you work directly with people on critical issues I can’t wait to hear your story.
Confidentiality and Possibilities
Protecting your clients is important.
Someone has trusted you with the most intimate parts of their lives as you help them on their journey. If you’re interested in sharing your story, myself and other social workers are here to support you in honoring the confidentiality of your client as we share in a professional community.
It is possible!
* Email me(<-click link to email) if you want help starting a professional blog*
The people who share the stories of folks on the front line are trained to show one side of the story (I’m one of them). Our job is to only show the good side. What would happen if the people who are doing the heavy lifting spoke for themselves? What if a social worker providing basic needs shared their day to day?
What could we learn? Where could we go as a profession?
If you work directly with people on critical issues and actively use social media I dare you to be more revealing:
How did you get into social good?
How do you deal with the negative emotions that come up doing this work?
What books inspire you?
What is your guiding mantra?
How do you embrace your spirituality and the spirituality of the other?
How and why do people get in difficult situations?
How do you feel *today*?
What are you *thinking* today?
This isn’t navel gazing. This is in depth examination of who and why we are. Leaving these questions unanswered is a recipe for circumstance, crisis, and mindlessness in your professional life.
Stop letting fancy books and experts speak for you.
Start a blog about your daily experience.
Make a YouTube video about an advocacy issue.
Be honest on twitter.
Most of us are tired of social media!
Not because social media is bad, but because we’ve turned it into an infomercial instead of an opportunity to grow intimately with our community of do gooders.
What happens when 10,000 housing case workers are in the same “virtual” room sharing and discussing ways to address low-income housing. Opinions change. Policies shift.
One of the reasons you might fear blogging or think it may be a waste of time is a common concern: "No one cares". Not true, look up your issue(s) on Facebook or Twitter: thousands of people are following and listening to non-profit organizations hoping to make a connection. Seeking to learn more about the issue.
They want to hear from you. No fluff. Just you.
We’re listening. If you have a blog - How did you get started? If you don’t have a blog, but want one - What is the #1 question you have about starting a blog? Share your answers in the comments!
This post was inspired by my recent conversation with Karen Zgoda and her work encouraging greater visibility of social workers on the Internet. Mozart Guerrier,MSW, is a social worker, writer, and the community manager for Aunt Bertha. His work focuses on urban community engagement, supporting helping professionals, and services for low-income families. You can email him at mozart(at)auntbertha.com
Internships are infamous in Social Work graduate education.
Internships are mandatory for most graduate school programs. I have an unique background with internships and social good jobs. In the last 3 years I have worked, volunteered, and interned for over 10 different social good organizations across the country, worked for HBO film makers, a workers right clinic, community organized to end sexual violence, volunteered for a literary arts organization, helped struggling families find housing, worked on grants and non-profit administration, and taught life skills to families on public assistance, etc. I've learned a lot on how to perform well in a non-profit environment and I want to share these experience with non-profit and social work students everywhere. What's most important is I've been able to maintain strong relationships with all of my past jobs, volunteer organizations, and collaborators!
This post is an in depth exploration of masters level licensure for social workers in the United States. Commonly called LMSW's (Licensed Master Social Worker). LMSW’s are social workers who have completed graduate studies in Social Work and passed a test administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB).
82% of MSW level professionals pass on the first try!
I’m hoping the information below will help the individuals who are going to pass the first time regardless and are seeking strategies to build their confidence, the social workers who predict they will experience difficulty and need a sophisticated plan, and social workers who have failed the test and are seeking new alternatives.
This guide will help you beat any test taking jitters, challenge the test with your social work skills, and provide you with the skills and strategies that have been effective for social workers across the United States.
The guide is separated into 3 sections:
Why licensure is important for social workersAunt Bertha's test taking method = A.C.T Tools and resources to ace the test!
Why Do I Need A Social Work License?
You've been in the field for years through internship, volunteer experiences, or employment, paid tons of money for graduate school, and now your state or employer wants you to take a test of your knowledge? What?! There aren’t too many social workers who ask for a professional exam for Christmas, but the LMSW does bear some gifts for us in our professional life:
Accountability - A professional exam is a testament that you've not only passed your classes in graduate school, but that you have the skills and experience to apply principles in the professional world and supervise others. Unfortunately, when “social workers” make an appearance in the media it is usually in the form of professional negligent or unethical behavior (unless you read Social Workers Speak which I highly recommend). Therefore, it is imperative that those who work with the most at risk populations have a standardized system of accountability mandated by local government, developed by social workers, and created by a independent organization.
Furthermore, policymakers and cultural critics have attempted to de-professionalize (history) Social Work with lower pay and a lower status as a health care professional. The social work exam helps professionalize the profession and helps other fields and people know that we aren’t just “helpers”, we are skilled professionals in the hope business.
This standard doesn’t mean all LMSW’s are ethical, practical, and effective, but it does create a necessary accountability system that says when one passes the LMSW test that they not only understand and can apply the information on the test, but that they will honor the principles that under gird the test throughout their career.
A social work license exam doesn’t view the “whole person”. A social work exam can’t articulate the level of empathy, leadership, or therapeutic support you provide and it shouldn’t be viewed as such. We can’t expect one testing instrument to take into account our entire being. The job of the exam is to set a standard of accountability.
Responsibility - Social workers have the most difficult and rewarding job in the world. No contest! Yet, the individuals, communities, and families are usually the true heroes. Social work client populations range from domestic and sexual violence survivors, abused children, families in crisis, individuals in recovery, eating disorders, low-income communities, and communities in developing countries, all trusting a social worker to provide professional guidance and support. While accountability is a value that is anchored in professional credentials I believe responsibility is anchored in the need for us to honor the sheer magnitude of our work as it relates to our clients.
Social workers specialize in providing hope in the midst of chaos.
I'm arguing that the license exam is a humble pre-requsite to work with these populations. A license doesn't make you an expert, but it does say you are willing try and act from an informed place.
A license test can easily be considered an enemy we must conquer, but I recommend you reframing it to be a challenge and barrier set up for those of us who say we are committed to the populations we serve.
Career Advancement: I find the Social Work degree to be one of the most diverse degrees, ever. If you plan on changing professions often, the licensure exam may not be necessary. But if you plan on working in direct practice, become a private therapist, or working for a large non-profit or government agency, a license is crucial.
A license generally provides higher wages, the ability to supervise MSW interns, and is a great stepping stone towards becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).
“Mozart, I don’t care about your reasons - I hate this test. How can I change it?!”
If my testing reasons aren’t persuasive enough, maybe you should become a test writer and contribute? ASWB will be looking for test writers in the fall of 2012. Click here to view the test writer qualifications and process. By the way, the test is not made by evil social work scientists in a lab. It is created through the input of veteran and diverse social workers from all across the country!
Aunt Bertha's Proven Test Taking Method = A.C.T
Aunt Berth'a proven test taking strategy is based on the three key elements of what a social worker may go through before she takes the test, what she can do to pass the test, and what she needs to know about the test to do well. I personally created this test taking theory based on my experiences taking tests as a social work graduate student, hours studying the LMSW exam prep material from across the internet, and my own experiences battling anxiety. The acronym stands for Anxiety, Community/Connection, and Test subject matter. The core elements of taking and passing any professional exam.The word acronym A.C.T also refers to the literal verb. The likelihood that you will pass the test the first time relies on your ability to act. For example, don't go any further until you've answered the questions below which require mini-actions:
Do not read the rest of this guide until you've answered the questions above.
We experience terrible anxiety when we don't have a plan, the questions above will help you develop an actionable test plan without having to study. You may realize through checking out the Social Work boards website that you feel comfortable taking the test tomorrow and your only barrier is money, getting a ride to the test site, or scheduling the best time to take the test in your busy schedule. If that applies to you feel free to wander off this little intense licensure exam go do something fun!
Test anxiety is a normal human emotion of perceived threat anticipation of danger. The social work exam may cause intense anxious feelings because your professional identity, career opportunities, and sense of self-worth are hanging in the balance. Eek!
Here are a couple of my favorite interventions to deal with anxiety:
1.Meditation: Social workers recommend mindfulness meditation to clients all the time in clinical settings, but are you applying meditation in your life?
Download a free meditation audio program (trial). After downloading play one of the meditation or studying/concentration audio tracks. This audio technology has been proven to entrain the brain through empirical research.
“I don’t have time to meditate!”
Dr. Herbert Benson, Harvard Medical School researcher and professor, has found that it only takes 12-15 minutes of meditation to garner the benefits of decreased anxiety and increased focus.
(If meditation bores you to tears, check out some Visualization exercises. Here’s a video of the testing site to help you with a visualization exercise:virtual tour. Hint: Imagine yourself walking into the test center confident and prepared)
2. Schedule study sessions: The average social worker is handling overwhelming caseloads, in dangerous, high risk, and life changing situations, dealing with personal issues, and being a social worker to friends and family. You may experience anxious and overwhelming emotions if you’re not sure how you’ll find the time to study.
Schedule - Sit down with your current schedule and decide how much time you want to spend studying for the test on a daily and weekly basis. Don't try to cram for eight hours at a time once or twice a week. That will make you hate the test!
Inform -Tell family members, supervisors, and close friends that you’ve set a time to study for the next couple of weeks and you’re really counting on their support. Calling and telling your inner circle that you need to study for this test can ease any feelings that you’re missing out on something during the process.
Get Away - Go to a coffee shop, library, or co-working space to study. For many of us, when we’re focusing on an important tasks the dishes suddenly need to be washed.
Use Tech - Use your smart phone, email software, or datebook to schedule study sessions and make it a date! Check out Social Work Tech blog for other great tips on integrating your tech gear!
Do not study for longer than 90 minutes! We (not just social workers, humans in general) live and work in 90 minute energy rhythms. Our bodies are programmed in this manner.
Take a short break (close your eyes, walk around, eat a snack) for 5-15 minutes between study sessions to stay fresh and energized.
3. Get Support: There may be some social workers who are generally anxious about this specific test due to its implications for a future or current position and any future aspirations. There may be others who have always had test anxiety and the licensure exam sends those anxious feelings into overdrive. Test anxiety does not mean you're not okay! You are okay. If none of the suggestions above work, I would recommend reaching out to a spiritual leader, a therapist, or a close friend to process these feelings.
Here are 4 other tips when seeking outside support for test anxiety:
Students - Visit your campus counseling center and/or academic advisement center. Both entities usually have staff members who are experts on test anxiety and academic performance.
Therapist Directory - Psychology Today maintains the largest high quality verified therapist directories on the Internet. A great place to begin looking for assistance!
Free to Low Cost Support - Not-for-profit organizations exist in many cities that either offer low-cost counseling or offer referrals and can help you find a therapist who sees people on a sliding scale. Mental Health America (formerly the National Mental Health Association) has tips on locating providers and paying for care.
Effective Therapies -When looking for a therapeutic expert on test anxiety, look for someone you're comfortable with above any other characteristic. Also keep in mind that there are a two therapies that are particularly empirically effective for general and test specific anxiety: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness Based Therapy.
Exercise - Exercise is correlated with improved cognition, stress reduction, and clear thinking. If you’re an active person go for a run/workout before study times and/or before the test! If you don’t like exercise just go for a walk for 15-20 at the mall or park 20 minutes a day.
Social workers are connectors. We are taught systems theory in graduate school and lean on collaboration to get things done at our agencies and offices. Nonetheless, a team doesn't become a LMSW, one person becomes a LMSW. I think that the individual aspect of licensure may be one of the reasons it may cause anxiety for many social workers. Even though it may be an individual pursuit there are various ways to learn from our elders and peers.
Four key suggestions for any connection/community support are:
Selection and Leadership - Study groups require leadership or a simple governance format. If the group only agrees on “studying for the exam” things can quickly get misdirected, convoluted, and a waste of time. A consistent or alternating group leader makes certain that the objectives of the study group are met and everyone stays focused.Please carefully select the study group you want to join too. If you’ve purchased a practice test, been to a exam prep course, and have less than 1 month until you take the exam it may not be a good idea to join a study group with social workers who haven’t even been to the ASWB website yet.
Time - Start and end study sessions on time. Pareto’s principle states that a task expands to the amount of time allotted to finish it. That means if you leave open your entire afternoon to study don't be surprised if your entire afternoon is a discussion of KSA's.
Example: Ever noticed when you are about to go on vacation in the middle of the week all your work is done by Wednesday, but when you're on a normal schedule it takes you until Friday. That’s Pareto’s Principle in effect!
Goals - Clear goals make a study group valuable to everyone involved. I recommend the group having general goals and each group member creating their own personal study and test performance goals. Question to ask: Is the group geared towards mutual support for social workers who are taking the LMSW and LCSW who may be in different places academically or is the goal of the group to create a team that will take the LMSW test the same day and work on the material together?
Homework - Homework for study group participants creates shared ownership and responsibility for the group. Coming to a study group expecting to learn everything together is daunting and unfair to the members who study before the group session. A study group is not a classroom, it is an opportunity to deepen the knowledge we already know.
Here are a couple of my favorite group tools, formats, and software, when developing the connection element of your A.C.T plan:
Internship Dates - If you're a graduate student on the cusp of graduating you're probably in a clinical or community setting with a licensed social worker. There also may be a high likelihood that you have supervision on a weekly basis with this person or even team meetings with a group of veteran professionals. Be bold. Ask your supervisor or colleagues questions about the test and their strategy for passing it in your state.
Take them out on a licensure date and ask them all the questions you may have!
"Help! There are no licensed social workers at my placement"
Ask your supervisor if she has friends with the license distinction that you can meet. Contact your school's field office and tell them you want to have a 30 minute chat with a licensed social worker - Most field offices are great connectors in communities and will help you if your an active student or alumni.
Peer Review - Organize a small group of friends 4-6 and make time to meet once a week at a quiet location in person.
Make it fun: Have each study group be a potluck lunch or dinner!
Google+ Hangouts - Google+ is a internet based social media platform that allows up to 9 people to connect live via audio or video for free! Social Workers are already using this innovative platform for license exams. For example, Cam Murdock, successfully started an intensive LCSW study group on G+ with a 100% pass rate. Go to LinkedIn Groups, Twitter, or Google+ and post a request for study partners in social work groups and see what happens!
Here’s a video on G+ for beginners:
Skype - Is a video and audio platform that allows free Skype-to-Skype audio calls. Austin G also started a successful LCSW video group using Skype. Unfortunately, Skype does not allow multiple video users on one call without a paid subscription.
Meetup - Meetup is a website that helps folks in the same city get together. If you live in a larger city or one with a higher percentage of social workers check out Meetup. There are over 477,000 listings for social workers on Meetup. com. Meetup groups usually charge a small fee of $5 for each visit.
*Craigslist is a great resource too, but it can be hard to find social workers who want to study fast in any region!
The National Association of Social Work (NASW)- The professional organization for social workers. The NASW hosts various paid courses and lectures on the license test. License resources are available for members and non-members, but non-members are charged a higher fee for services. Contact your local state or city chapter here.
Graduate Schools - Many graduate schools offer free or reduced rate LMSW exam prep materials and presentations. If you’re still in school and want resources at your school reach out to your advisor or some other mover and shaker in your program and get it going! If your program has a "department or school" librarian they often have materials available too.
Tests Subject Matter
The ASWB exam are 170 multiple choice questions (only 150 count toward your score) and you will have 4 hours to complete the test with accommodations being made if you need further support.
The ASWB examinations do not rely on tricks, gimmicks, or word games. They are not designed to purposefully confuse test-takers. They are designed to measure knowledge, skills, and abilities relevant to safe and ethical social work practice. Putting energy in to trying to figure out how to “beat” the examination through various “tricks and tips”-type strategies is a waste of your time, and will probably not improve your score.
The test is extremely reliable which means that if you don’t get a good score and attempt to take the test again without studying the chances of getting a great score are incredibly low.
Re-assessing your social work knowledge, however, and conducting an honest appraisal of your weaknesses and strengths, may well put you on the road to success with the examination.Certain social work boards have limits to the amount of times you can take the test.
Qualifying words: Many items on the ASWB examinations ask what the social worker should do “FIRST” or “NEXT”, or require test takers to identify something that is “MOST likely,” “MOST appropriate, or “BEST.” These words are bolded and capitalized in the actual test, and should be considered very carefully as you choose an answer.
Exam Speak: "Refer" on exam could mean just telling the client about (as opposed to sending the client away to another agency);confront could mean calling attention to something (not in a negative way) and contract could refer to a treatment plan (as opposed to safety plan). via Dorleem
A KSA is a “Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities” statement. These statements describe the discrete knowledge components that may be tested in each part of the examination, and are the basis for individual test questions. KSAs are publicly available and free.
There is a common adage in social work circles that most tests fail to measure what happens in the real world. This may be true for a extremely specific situations in your professional life, but it is also important to understand that the test is not based on your Social Work programs’ ethical position, your agencie’s policies, or your personal perspective, but on theNASW Code of Ethics. For example, there are some agencies who may engage in mandated social services that could be considered a violation of a client’s self determination. Becoming aware of sticky ethical issues that may be present in your professional life will aid you when taking the test.Read the Code of Ethics online or buy the book. If you find one of the ethics morally unjust, I would recommend advocating for yourself via your local Social Work Boards, NASW, etc.
Testing resources from around the web
*I have compiled a list of paid and free resources to directly aid you in passing the test. I have not received any compensation nor am I directly affiliated with any of the bloggers, products, or companies below.
LMSW Exam Conference: The NASW-NYC chapter hosted a forum on the LMSW with test specialists, professionals, and students. This is the BEST LMSW Resource on the internet because it includes video footage!
Watch Ella Harris discuss her licensing journey here:
Watch a large portion of this amazing conference here:
Test Advice and Support: An Indeed.com forum seems to be a gathering place for various levels of information on the LMSW test. Best idea: When evaluating and diagnosing, address medical issues first. I recommend paying specific attention to user: axxatron. She has the best advice. Read more here.
Positive LMSW Experience: Ammu Prashantini, LMSW, shares her experience taking the exam 4 years post grad and 10 great tips for being successful. Read more here.
Challenging LMSW Experience: A LinkedIn user shares her experience failing the LMSW exam and receives high quality support from other social workers. Read more here.
Free Online Flashcards: A social worker wrote and publicly shared a series of LMSW exam flashcards. I have not verified the validity of every question, but this is a resource worth checking out. Read more here.
SocialWorkExam.com: Provides free and for fee resources for LMSW candidates. I would recommend checking out the exam tips pages. Read more here.
Social Work Helper - A private social work and human service community created by a social worker. While LinkedIn and other public forums may be popular, Social Work Helper works hard to protect your privacy. Check it out here.
Do you have a LMSW story(positive or negative)? Resource? Share it in the comments below!Was this post helpful?
*I will update this post every time someone shares a comment. This will allow us to have a high quality, organized, and comprehensive LMSW exam guide over time!
Now it’s time to say goodbye and wrap up your post. Remind your readers of your key takeaway, reiterate what your readers need to do to get the desired result, and ask a question about how they see the topic to encourage comments and conversation. Don't forget to add a Call-to-Action!
Congratulations! What a lovely image post you've created.
“I knocked on the shelter’s doors for hours and no one came out to help me....” -M.W “How long does it usually take to get help for a fire? It has been 2 weeks since we lost everything.” -S.D
Above are just some of the reactions of what happens when a non-profit or charity goes missing or doesn’t provide the service promised. These are problems of speed, effectiveness, quality of care - things that impact families in crisis at the worst possible moment. Where is one to go when those who are supposed to provide the service are unavailable? Who’s listening?
Charity Navigator, GuideStar, funding and government agencies all create reports on nonprofits, but these reports are made for educated professionals and are generated once or at most a few times a year.
Who's generated reports for the parents who may not be educated in the art of program evaluation? Some social service clients are asked to fill out customer satisfaction surveys, but honestly, how can someone rate an agency without bias, when the agency is providing a situation critical service?
These are questions that have been on the hearts and minds of all of us at Aunt Bertha. We are working to develop situation responsive solutions for families in need and a framework that eases service delivery for non-profits. To that effect, we wonder, where is the true voice of the people being served?
Oftentimes, the only time you’ll hear the voice of a family that has used social services is in “feel good” testimonial stories or large scale investigations by journalists.
Where is the middle ground?
Not just “this organization saved my life” or “this place is rude and horrible”, but “I had a great appointment with my job coach at Goodwill, things are looking up!” We’re interested in the idea of unprovoked feedback that ranges between amazing, good, fair, and bad.
Those in a position of power need to know. Yes!
Those who are actually seeking a specific service need to know with more urgency and frequency than any other party involved.
Imagine: I work a part time job, have 2 children, and barely making ends meet. I call the food pantry number to check on food availability. No answer. I catch the bus to the local food pantry during the “open and available” hours only to discover that there is no more food available. It takes 1.5 hours to get to the pantry and the next pantry is another 1.5 hour bus ride away.
Wouldn’t it have been easier if I could tell someone in a community setting for the next parent seeking food with limited resources?
I think so.
Now, we need to decide how to balance the various interest and issues with this idea of good feedback with hopes of one day integrating rating into Aunt Bertha.
Do you think evaluating Non-profits is a good or bad thing?
Creating an account on Aunt Bertha allows individuals and families to find out which programs they qualify for, how much they qualify for, bookmark programs, and get monthly and weekly updates on jobs and new programs in their zip code.
Guest Post:Aunt Bertha knows that working families sometimes need extra help. This guest post by Kieron Casey will help you understand and navigate this process with your employer. Spelling is based on British English.
An employee assistance program (EAP) is intended to provide workers who are coping with a significant work-related or personal problem with the counselling services they need. Businesses are aware that any employee can experience such a problem at some point—a problem that can affect their ability to function both at work and at home.
By offering these programs to their workers, employers realize the following benefits:
● Professional counselling can help eliminate those distractions that prevent their employees from doing their very best on the job. ● When employees have to be replaced because of these problems, the employer inevitably bears the expense of hiring someone new, along with losing what they have already invested in someone who leaves the company. ● Providing workers with a good program shows them that their employer is sincerely interested in their well-being.
EAPs vary in scope
Not surprisingly, a large company is able to offer their workers a more extensive list of programs, and in some cases, the services they provide are even extended to the employees’ family members. As a rule, businesses allow counselling and other assistance to take place during the work day and/or after hours. The counsellors are skilled in helping employees find a solution to their problems, and when they feel it is necessary, they also refer workers to volunteers or trained professionals in the local community for additional help.
Getting workers to participate in a program
As an incentive to those who need help to participate in a program, employers usually offer these counselling services without cost to their full-time employees. However, they often restrict the number of counselling sessions that can be conducted prior to charging a fee. Generally speaking, the cost of any referrals the counsellors make is usually covered as a benefit of a more traditional health care program. Please check with your Human Resource Department.
Assistant programmes are thankfully available all over the world and are accessible for most workers. Examples of prominent not for profit EAPs include Long Island’s Open Arms program which aims in assisting the region’s labour unions as well as small businesses and major corporations. The program helps individuals and their relatives who may be struggling with alcohol and drugs issues and provides interventions, referrals and follow up schemes too. WorkLife Hawaii is another local EAP service provider which helps companies assist with risk management so as to not allow an individual’s personal problems put themselves or others at risk. In Canada FSEAP are specialists who provide confidential counselling via professionals who all hold Masters or Doctorates in Social Work or Psychology and all boast a minimum of five years counselling experience each. Other prominent EAPs include Buffalo’s Child & Family Services and Ontario’s Family Services. Each of these programs aims to help individuals in both their personal and professional lives overcome any potential problems.
Confidentiality is a concern
When a worker agrees to meet with a counsellor, the employer has him or her contact the program administrator, who is usually an employee in their Human Resources Department. While this step is necessary from the employer’s viewpoint in order to maintain control over the program, participating workers sometimes raise the question of confidentiality when they have to do this. In order for an EAP to reach its goal, the participants must be convinced that any information they share in conjunction with the program will be regarded as confidential. In other words, any personal and private information revealed to counsellors must not be shared with those who are outside of the program.
If a referral to the program is issued by the employee’s manager or supervisor and also includes disciplining the employee because of poor on-the-job performance, that information should not be revealed to the counsellors.
Kieron Casey is a BA (Hons) Journalism graduate who blogs regularly on a number of topics including employment, careers and assistance programs
Part of the motivation was around my experience working in government consulting and seeing a culture of ambivalence when it comes to innovation. At times it was as if people forgot why we were doing the work in the first place. The initial exuberance of helping people, gradually, was replaced by, well, fear of screwing up.
Fear of rejection from a self-proclaimed "sage" who had "tried that before" 5 years ago.
Our goal is ambitious, no doubt. We want to organize the world's human service program information so people can find the programs that will help them in seconds. No navigating through virtual slush piles of paper just to find out about programs. No long lines at agencies only to find out you don't qualify - losing an entire day.
We want to add dignity to the process.
Life is hard enough for folks struggling to make ends meet. To think we live in a time when burial plots are still part of the application process shows how little the human services industry has changed with the times. I certainly can understand taking assets into account to determine eligibility, but when only a tiny percentage of people own a burial plot - why even bother wasting staff time and the client's time discussing it? What's the worst that can happen? Someone with a burial plot as an investment gets too much in benefits?
I would probably guess that Texas (a state that I proudly live in and love), has spent 10000 times more money for staff time discussing burial plots than the actual value of all burial plots applicants have owned since the Food Stamp program began.
It's time to re-evaluate what we're doing. It's time to evaluate why we're perpetuating policies that, at the end of the day, just don't matter that much - especially if the trade-off is spending money to administer and support these policies.
Can we imagine something better?
If Aunt Bertha can help educate people enough about these programs, what's out there, to the point where people can feel comfortable navigating the overly complex application process then we feel really good about it. Unfortunately, all too often, people get scared and don't want to apply because it's too complicated - too hard. Who needs yet another aspect of our lives to be confusing?
So what happens now?
People don't get help when the problem starts -- they get help when it gets real bad. It's more expensive to all of us when it gets real bad.
Aunt Bertha's the Aunt we all had growing up. She tells it like it is. She's the first one to give you a high-five when you make the honor roll. She's the friendly face that won't judge you when you get in trouble. She's who you call or visit during those times when you get real with yourself.
She (Aunt Bertha) may not save the day - that's up to you - but she can give you some perspective with a clear set of eyes and a full heart.
She recently graduated with a degree in social work and taught me everything I needed to know about leadership while she was on a date with her boyfriend. Before I let you know about that magic, let's get some background information on this young woman.
Besides having a super attitude (attitude is everything), she also happened to be a student-leader at a 400+ person graduate school of do-gooders for the last two years. She led the charge as a student advocate and was the lead master of ceremonies, all while providing clinical services to adult sex offenders and as a professional working in juvenile justice.
Not easy stuff. So, imagine my surprise when I saw pictures of her on a date.
My big takeaway from seeing this picture of a social worker on a date was this:
Leadership is the ability to give away the keys to your "art". This company has a packed room every week full of people who want to have a great time, tap into their creativity, and be Picasso for a day.
Self-Care: There is nothing more powerful than periods of intense rest and work. In the business of hope it's necessary to not fall into compassion fatigue. It's important to keep your innovation and creativity levels high.
Risk: I am certain that a good number of people that show up to this event are a bit skeptical that the teacher can guide them to mastery in one night, but if we trust the process... maybe it can work.