Assessing Family History, Needs, and Well-Being to Improve TANF Services to Families


Welcome to Assessing Family History Needs
and Well-Being to Improve TANF Services to Families webinar. My name is Jennifer Gillissen
and I am from Kauffman and Associates and we will be hosting the webinar today. I would
like to start with explaining a little bit about the webinar interface. You should all
see the first slide of the PowerPoint presentation and the Q&A box on the right. We will be answering
questions at the end of the webinar, but you can enter your question at any time into the
Q&A box. If you need technical assistance during the webinar, please use the Q&A box.
Please note that this webinar is being recorded and there will be a survey that will pop up
at the end of the webinar. I would like to now turn it over to the moderator Lisa Washington-Thomas,
Chief Self-Sufficiency Branch, Office of Family Assistance.
Thank you so much, Jennifer. Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us today; our webinar
on assessing family history needs and well-being for the assistance of family stability policy
academy sites and any other people who are interested. We’ve decided on this webinar
because it is of great interest and it is one of Two Generational approaches to poverty…is
a priority of OFA. And one of the aspects of a 2-Gen program is how they assess the
entire family. So we are very pleased to have a wonderful slate of presenters today. Again,
my name is Lisa and I’ll be opening up today’s webinar, and my colleague Damon Waters will
help facilitate a Q&A session at the end. We designed this event to share information
specifically about family assessment tools and functions, but also hope it can be an
interactive discussion on how you assess clients and their families and how you translate that
information into service planning. Our objectives over the course of the next hour will be to
ensure that you understand how assessing family functioning, history, and experiences can
improve outcomes for TANF recipients and their families. We want to discuss a list of tools
that human service programs use to assess whole family functioning, and how to hear
about TANF programs…and to hear how TANF program presenters assess whole family functioning
and use it in the information to improve service planning. Throughout today’s webinar, you’ll
have an opportunity to ask questions and chat in the chat box at the bottom right-hand corner
of your screen. We encourage you to ask questions and, if your questions are for a specific
presenter, please be sure to specify that. If we do not get to everyone’s questions,
we will provide a Q&A that will appear on our Peer TA website in the Assistance of Family
Stability hub, along with a transcript and slides from today’s webinar. We are very
fortunate to have three presenters who will be discussing family assessment today. Our
first presenter, Jill, has a Masters of social work degree and is a licensed clinical social
worker. She is currently the Administrator of the Integrative Assessment Program with
the Illinois Department of Children’s Services. She has been with IDCFS for over 20 years
and has spent the majority of her career in the Clinical Services Division, serving not
only as the administrator of the integrative assessment program, but also as a regional
clinical manager and regional clinical coordinator. Prior to joining IDCFS, she worked as an administrator
and direct service provider in an inpatient mental health facility and in private practice.
Our second presenter is Debbie Davis. Ms. Davis began her career with the Washington
State Department of Social and Health Services in March 1981 working directly with individuals
and families in need to provide assistance for food, medical, childcare, and case management
to address barriers to employment. Since that time, she has served in various roles, such
as the financial and workforce supervisor, regional workforce coordinator, community
service division program manager. Currently, Debbie is the Administrator for TANF and Workforce
Policy for Community Services Division within the Economic Services Administration of the
Department of Social and Health Services. Our final presenter is Karla Aguirre and Marion
Eckersley from the Utah Department of Workforce Services. Karla is currently the Director
of Workforce Programs and the Policy…and the Department and…Programs and Policy and
the department oversees the administration of TANF, WIOA, Wagner Peiser, trades, and
the state Workforce Development Board. She has over 25 years of public service administering
programs at the state, county, and local level. Marion is a Program Specialist and Supervisor
of Utah Department of Workforce Services with 15 years of experience working with TANF policies,
contracts, and projects. Most recently, she has been involved with the development and
implementation of department Next Generation Kids, an intergenerational poverty program.
So, thank you, and I would like to turn this over to Jill.
Thank you. Um, thanks everyone for joining us this afternoon. I’m a presenter not from
the TANF world. I am in the child welfare world, but I certainly hope that I have the
opportunity to present today how the model that Illinois uses for family assessment may
provide TANF employees and staff with some basic foundation for Two Generational and
family assessment. So, I will try not to use all my child welfare lingo and stay focused
on that. The first thing I wanted to, kind of, let you know is that our assessment program
is about 10 years old. We really launched this program for children entering foster
care and then bring siblings of children in foster care. And we also, for a 5-year period,
had a grant to work with *** (unclear – 6:43) families, which would be the services around
prevention. We really needed to know from the assessment model that we were using, which
was really basic social history gathering, to really move it to a more strength-based,
trauma-informed, and family-centered model. The department is also and has been for a
large number of years under a consent decree that required us to enhance our screening
and assessment on children and families. And the Department of Children and Family Services
in Illinois is also one of the only public *** (unclear – 7:17) entities that is accredited
by the Council on Accreditation. We actually have what we consider a dual professional
assessment model, which is extremely unique and really, kind of, is the Cadillac version
of an assessment program. We’re very fortunate to have in Illinois. We pair the identified
caseworker for the family and child with a licensed clinical professional who is the
integrated assessment screener, and then they, together, work to assess the families and
write the report, and then move that assessment information into the client service planning.
The caseworker brings with them the TANF child welfare expert piece, if you will. The IA
screener actually brings the clinical expertise and then, together, they combine to really
look at the family, both within the child welfare context, but also in a clinical context,
so that that is the balanced assessment to move forward with service planning. The other
component of the dual assessment process is that they work very hard to gather all historical
information about families that have been completed by other providers. As I’m sure
you’re well aware, our families are often very complex, historically…have used several
different service providers and community resources. And before we launched the Integrated
Assessment program, we had all of these individual assessments, kind of, out there in a client
file. And some folks use some information, some folks do other information. And this
also provides us an opportunity to gather all of that information into one report within
the first 45 days of the case. So, we’re not having information, kind of, floating
out here that half the world knows or half of the world doesn’t know. So, that has
been a huge strength both in the assessment world, but also in the common (? unclear – 9:27)
service training world. In order to make, sort of. the division of labor, it’s important
to, kind of, note that again—the dual assessment model, dual professional assessment model—the
worker maintains responsibility for the case. They write the service plan. They represent
their case in court and their worker and their supervisor are really the owner of that piece,
because they’re the ones that are going to carry that case forward after that integrative
assessment screener is finished with the case and he moves out. Our integrative assessment
screeners are contractual employees with the Department of Children and Family Services,
whereas the worker is either an employee of the Department of Children and Family Services
or a contractual foster care provider. You can see the division of labor there. I’m
not going to go through that in a great deal of detail, so that I can, kind of, move forward
and focus on what it is we’re really looking for that, hopefully, can carry over and be
of assistance in working out and utilizing a Two Generational model. We, as I indicated
in the beginning, we use the trauma-informed, family‑focused, and strength-based model
of assessment. We gather information in all life domains for all children in their case,
as well as all significant adults. What does “significant adults” mean? That means
moms, dads, boyfriends, grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles—whoever may be a significant
adult in that child’s life or has been or is a caregiver for the child. And we look
at educational and employment history of those parents. We also look at that in our older
teen population. We look at current and historical health information. We’ll include pregnancy
information specifically around substance exposure and any sort of traumas related to
pregnancy. We also use the ACE’s study and look at adverse child and adult experiences.
We do a thorough assessment of mental health and social functioning. For our adults, we
do use those screening instruments to include the Edinburgh Post Pardon Depression Scale,
the Child Abuse Potential Inventory, and then we also look at the Parental Stress Inventory.
We will do additional assessment instruments if we find that there’s symptomology that
would indicate that. Um, and so the function…how are they functioning within the community,
within their family structure, and within their figure for general relationships they
have? Um, obviously, substance abuse is important to us in our assessment processes. Domestic
violence, residential stability—what kind of…what’s their legal involvement? Have
they been in and out of trouble? Have they been in prison? Are they…been on parole?—Those
types of things. And then, what…are there significant adult relationships and how have
those impacted their ability to have stable mental health, stable functioning, stable
employment? And obviously, what impact may that have on their ability to safely parent
children? We do focus on the six protective factors on parental resilience, knowledge
of parent and child development. What kind of concrete supports are out there for them
in their community, in their church family, you know, within whatever social context they
have? What is the social and emotional competence of their children? And then, significantly,
for in the child welfare world, what is the parent-child relationship? The Department
of Children and Family Services also utilizes the child and parents’ needs and strength
assessment both for our children and our adults. That gives us an opportunity to really work
out the strengths and needs of the families and utilize that tool in moving forward with
recommendations for our service plan. We also do developmental assessment on all of our
children. We do utilize the Early Screening Inventory for our preschool kids to look at
their readiness for kindergarten with the focus on youth development, also a possible
learning disability, language, social development—those issues. We also use the ASQ, which is the
*** (unclear – 13:50) Social Quotient on all our children; how are they interfacing and
developing socially? We also use the Infant/Toddler Symptom Checklist, again looking at trauma
symptomology and experiences of our young children. We use the *** (unclear – 14:07),
which really look at maturity development, as well as the experience-based attainments
in development. The use of the integrative assessment in our practice and, hopefully,
in, again, looking at a Two Generation approach, um, some of the model concepts may be of some
assistance. As I indicated, we look at all life domains that are, in fact, the educational,
vocational, social, and mental functioning of all of our kids and significant adults.
We provide very specific recommendations to address safety, permanency, and well-being,
um, which are really the basis for our service plan. We prioritize those, obviously, in the
child welfare world to look at safety. The educational and vocational and employment
component and life domains really fit into our well-being component when making recommendations.
As I indicated, we also integrate all assessment information into one report; both our case
worker use, but also for our stakeholders. And we, also, then provide a prognosis. And
that’s where the clinician really comes into play with successful achievement of the
permanency goals and, you know, then what strategies are really going to be needed both
for the families, but also utilized by our service providers to help them have the successful
outcomes for those service recommendations? The Illinois Model of Integrative Assessment:
we have had a lot of work done with our partners at the University of Chicago at Chapin Hall
and I have provided just a handful of additional links where you can go in and look at some
of the outcome information analysis of the program at a much deeper level, as well as
doing some comparative data around just an integrative assessment or social history being
done by community (?unclear – 16:16) worker versus utilization of a dual professional
assessment model that I have spoken about today. That concludes my presentation on the
integrated model and I would like to now turn it over to Debbie.
Thank you. I’m excited to be on the webinar with you today. I have been asked to share
the process and redesign of our Comprehensive Evaluation that staff now use when they’re
meeting with workforce participants. It started in 2010 with a request from our governor—at
that time, Governor Gregoire—to redesign the TANF program. The principles… Uh, the
guiding principles for the overall redesign were renewed emphasis on employment as the
best route out of poverty; family center assessment and case management; parental responsibility
and engagement to promote healthy child development; promote TANF as a transition to self-sufficiency
by addressing barriers to employment while using a strength-based approach; leveraging
non-TANF resources in the community and with state’s partners; informing the redesign
process with new data from our DSHS research and data analysis team; identifying participants
at-risk of siphoning on and off TANF and on the significance of barriers, such as mental
illness and chemical dependency. A key piece of TANF redesign, overall, was redesigning
the Comprehensive Evaluation (also known as the CEs), which is the assessment undergone
by all workforce participants after their financial eligibility for the program has
been established. In current with the redesign and rollout of the new CE was statewide training
of workforce case managers and social service specialists and motivational interviewing
techniques. To make this happen, we contracted with the Institute for Individual and Organizational
Change who provided the training. The redesign committee included workforce headquarters,
policy and operations staff, our information technology staff, and frontline field staff,
as well as our workforce partner agencies—that’s the Department of Commerce, Employment Security,
the Department of Early Learning, and the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges.
The community drew on a broad range of expertise in particular subject areas, both inside and
outside of our administration. For example, the Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery
for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Trainings, excuse me, screenings; the Community Colleges
for Learning Disability Assessments; the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
for domestic violence screening; building changes at local community-based organization
for questions on housing stability and homelessness; the Children’s Administration for child
welfare questions; the Department of Early Learning for insight on adverse childhood
experience; and executive functioning. An initial version of the new CE was piloted
for 6 weeks in three field offices, including weekly conference calls with managers and
observational visits to see how it was going. Follow-up included focus groups with line
staff and participant surveys, and then revisions were made accordingly. There were extensive
sessions with our IT staff to match automation as much as possible—what the field was asking
for. The new CE is divided into three main stand-alone parts. The rationale for the separate
parts is to allow staff and participants the flexibility to address issues in a priority
that makes sense for the participants. There’s no compulsion to complete the whole CE in
one sitting if that is not appropriate. This structure is also accompanied by a change
in procedures so that the entire CE doesn’t have to be completed as frequently. For example,
a new full CE is only required if a participant has been off TANF continuously for 12 months;
however, only Part 1, or a shortened version of 2 and 3, are required if they return within
12 months. So, let’s look at different parts of the CE. Part 1 of the CE covers basic questions
to elicit the emergent needs. These questions are designed to identify, up front, if there
are issues that need to be addressed. If the worker marks “yes” in any of the questions,
they’re directed to complete the appropriate sections in Part 2 before developing a plan
with that participant. An example of the questions are: “Does your family need housing?”
“Do you or someone in your household have a medical condition or pregnancy that needs
immediate assistance?” “Do you need immediate help to deal with someone who has hurt or
threatened you or your children?” If the issue is severe enough, the worker has the
option of stopping the CE and developing a plan to address the barriers or continue completing
the rest of the CE if that’s appropriate. When family is in crisis, it isn’t always
the best time to go through questions when the participant’s focus at that time is
on that crisis. In Part 2 of the CE, we go into detailed questions on family functioning
and well-being. The worker may have completed some of these questions during Part 1 and
then stopped to address the barriers. The CE is a living document. It’s updatable.
When they meet with the participant after the immediate barrier has been taken care
of, they will complete the remaining sections of Part 2. This is where many of the questions
are that look at the whole family. Sections in this section are about accomplishments,
skills, goals for themselves and family, what type of supports they have in place, how their
children are doing in school—including prompts such as, “Have they transferred schools
often due to housing issues?” “Are the kids attending regularly?” “Does the participant
volunteer at their child’s school or child care?” “Do the children have challenges?”
“Is there special educational plans in place for the child?” “Do the children have
health issues?” “Do the children get regular health and dental checkups?” “Are they
connected?” “Are they concerned about their kids abusing drugs or alcohol?” “Are
there any legal issues with kids, like arrests or truancy?” “Are there any custody or
shared custody concerns?” And, for the older children, family planning questions are prompted.
Other areas in this part of the CE include questions about childcare needs and the participant’s
responsibility for caring for any other adults, helping stability, adult health, and family
violence. A section related to mental health and chemical dependency is to gain *** (unclear
– 23:57) screening tool. This tool is comprehensive and standardized by a psychosocial assessment
tool widely used in the welfare, justice, and school-based programs. Part 3 of the CE
is all about the employability. This part helps to complete the whole picture. It covers
education, employment history, and experience. In this section, we talk about earned income
tax credit, taxes, how they pay bills… We gather information on their recent employment
history, if they were fired or left a job, why… Whether they have the necessary items,
like ID and Social Security number, and a way for employers to contact them. Do they
have appropriate clothing? Is there any prior military service? Any special skills like
operating equipment or machinery or keyboarding? (Coughing.) Excuse me. We also ask about their
job interests and training needs in this section, as well as their educational level, such as,
“Do they have any certificates that they may have gotten?” “How did they do in
school?” “What was easy for them?” “What was the challenges that they had in school?”
We also ask about any criminal history or upcoming court obligations that they may have
that would affect their participation or limit the type of occupation they could have. This
section, Part 3, also covers the transportation needs and their back-up childcare. Throughout
the CE, the worker is given prompts, based on how they answer the questions, and also
has documentation guidelines. These family functioning questions help to inform the worker
how the family is doing and help develop a comprehensive plan for addressing the needs
of the family, not just the participant. Some questions also have a follow-up indicator
that a worker can check. This allows the assistant to automate all of the follow-up questions
into one area for easy access and review the progress of an individual or a family. After
the CE is completed, the worker has a much better understanding of the participant and
their family. With the parent’s involvement in the decision-making, the worker is much
better prepared to make appropriate referrals and develop the individual responsibility
plan using what they’ve learned in their CEs. This is a screenshot of what the comprehensive…the
start of the Comprehensive Evaluation. Again, the rationale for the separate parts is to
allow staff and participants the flexibility to address issues and a priority that makes
sense for the participant. There’s no pressure to complete the whole Comprehensive Evaluation
in one sitting if that is not appropriate. The new CE was also automated to allow the
core Work First partners, Employment Security, the Department of Commerce Contractors, our
limited English proficiency contractors, and the community and technical colleges to add
information regarding their work with the particular participant in specific update
sections of the CE. These updates in the original CE are electronically assessable to the Workforce
partners with the required protections for participant confidentiality in areas such
as domestic violence. In designing the CE update section, each of the partners identify
specific milestones in their work with participants that would be highlighted. For example, employment
security milestone would be “work skills assessments” or “resumé completion.”
For the colleges, a high school diploma or equivalency or certificate degree completion.
TANF has been using the new CE since July 2014—so not so new anymore. There has been
some anecdotal feedback from staff that they would like to see some changes, such as questions
related to mental health and questions related to chemical dependency, more strength-based
questions, and a better tie-in to the motivational interviewing techniques. It’s an ever evolving
process and we will be looking at ways to improve the CE. And we’ll likely be doing
a staff and participant survey to determine areas for improvement in the future. Thank
you, and next up, we will hear from Karla and Marion.
All right. Thank you. This is Karla and I want to introduce Marion who has been the
lead, um, project leader and supervisor on our project that we’re going to talk about.
But first of all, I just want to start with, um… We just need to look at our slide here
going. Um, I want to talk a little bit… And I’ve given you the website to our intergenerational
report. So, I want to just talk a little bit about how we got to where we’re at with
our intergenerational TANF families. So, somewhat like the state of Washington, there was legislation
passed in 2012 that talked about collecting data around intergenerational poverty, and
so, we’ve been collecting data in the state of Utah where we’ll be working on our fifth
report this summer. And I think it’s important to know that some of the decisions that we’ve
made have been based on data. And I think it’s very interesting that, when you make
assumptions without using data, that, you know, we’re like, “Oh, we don’t have
that many people in intergenerational poverty.” But when you actually start collecting the
data and getting more sophisticated, you realize that, yes, you do—and where those pockets
are. And then, the legislation that was passed, the Intergenerational Poverty Mitigation Act
that was passed here in the state of Utah, really advised or told the State Department
from the Health Department of Workforce Services, Urban Health, Education, and the courts that
“you guys—really, your agencies and your programs—you really need to look at your
policies and start to address and make modifications and changes based on the data.” And so that’s
where we started, and so we started with a program. We came up with a program for the
Department of Workforce Services called Next Generation Kids, and so the three things that
we talked about was… Well, okay… We knew who our population was and we wanted to be
very specific about the population that we wanted to do a project with. We also knew
that, because of the TANF work participation rate and the engagement, that we wanted this
to be a voluntary project. So, that was the second thing we decided. And the third thing
we decided, after looking at the data, is we wanted to generally have tests in different
areas where there was a concentration of poverty. And so, those were the three decisions that
we started with and how our project Next Generation Kids evolved. So, we did a lot of research
and planning with our partner from the University of Utah Social Research Institute and we developed
a plan going forward with our first project. And Marion will talk about the family assessment,
but really, this is about working with the entire family, with both the parents and the
children, in a 2-Gen approach. We also knew that, from the research and the evidence-based
research that we did, that we wanted to have…use some of the motivational interviewing. We
had some data around ACEs. We had some data around coaching. And so, we put together our
project that was around the kids and the family and we looked at the data around early childhood
development, education, health, and economic stability, and these actually became our goals
and the things that we focused on. But our model evolved into having a family success
coach with a family-focused plan and assessments, but we would joint case manage these families
with other agencies if we had crossover, but that we’d have a clinical therapist on site
in these pilots, which we did. But the other piece that was very important with this is
that we realized that we couldn’t do this by ourselves and we needed community involvement.
And so, that’s very high level to how we got to where we are with our project, but
we really had two main goals to look at as we developed this project. One was that we
really wanted to reduce the risk of these children being raised in households that were
on public assistance. We really wanted to try to break that cycle and to test some strategies
and use evidence-based research to test those strategies, which is where we’re at right
now. And the second thing is we wanted to learn from testing these strategies so that
we could decide, “What are the best strategies and interventions that we could possibly utilize
in our regular TANF or cash assistance program here in the state of Utah?” And so those
are the things that we’ve been doing with our three pilot sites or project sites, but
the family assessment and that piece that Marion is going to talk about is key, and
a very important concept and intervention process that we’ve learned from and we’re…
And I’ll talk about that, at the very end, about where we’re going with that, but that’s
just, kind of, very quickly an overview of how we’re…why we’re talking about a
Two Generation approach and the family assessment. And I’ll turn the time over to Marion to
talk specifically about the family assessment. Hello. Hi, I just wanted to start with…
Um, when we started to work on our assessment and our Next Generation Kid’s programs,
we first looked at our Social Research Institute information. They interview our customers.
And one of the…the number one item that customers identified as being, um, helping
them be successful in their TANF program was the relationship with their counselor. So,
we looked at that; we thought, “It’s not so much about the tool that you’re using
for the assessment, but it’s focusing on how you ask the questions and the approach
that you use and how you interact with the customers to get the right information to
make…to help them along the way.” So, the first strategy we looked at with our case
managers was where we can get them some intensive training on poverty and trauma and how it
impacts children. We used ACEs, some training on executive functioning, poverty, and trauma
in children, and staff worked both with both parents and children on the assessment. So,
it’s a family assessment. They’re not doing separate assessments on each, but when
they are meeting with the parents and the family, they’re asking questions about the
whole entire family. Then, we identified the needs of the family through the assessment
and develop a plan based on those needs. And the plan includes activities not only around
the parent now, but also around the children and how to make the family successful. With
this approach, as Karla said, we have family…what we call family success coaches. They’re
our case managers and they received an intensive, specific training. We also have a licensed
clinical therapist. And we do a lot of case bouncing with community partners, including
schools that our children are involved with to collect grades and attendance and things
like that. And to do this, we always…we thought a comprehensive family assessment
is needed to accomplish this goal. Community partners are needed for our resources. As
Karla said, we can’t do it all. So, it’s always important to involve community resource
partners and resource…research all the resources that you can have. So, at the beginning of
the development of our assessment, we looked at our objectives and outcomes. We wanted
to start at what we wanted to accomplish with the project. First of all, was the basic needs
of children were being met? We’re asking parents or their primary care physicians for
both the parents and the children, um, are children supported by adults influencing their
lives? We offer parenting workshops. We talk to the parents about discussing college with
their children, discussing finances with their children, making sure that they’re involving
their children and talking about the future. Parents on the path are on a path to employment
and occupation is paying a wage sufficient to meet the basic needs of children. Are we
offering training…sufficient training with these parents? And are the kids seeing that
the parents are accomplishing training? Families are building assets to support their children’s
future. We offer financial literacy classes for the parents and, also, we encourage parents
to open a children’s savings account. We’ve added a pilot within our pilot program, opening
a 529 savings account for all of the children and the families. And then children are on
a path towards academic success. So, during our assessment, we always want to gather grades,
attendance, test scores, and talk to the parents about their involvement in school and how
they’re doing with the kids. So, four areas… The four key areas that we identify to address,
that lead toward the success of children in poverty, are healthy families. We’re assessing
the family’s access to health, primary care physicians, dentists, faith-based, and overall
well-being of the family. We offer food and nutrition classes for the families. Financial
stability: we want to assess their current financial situation and complete a reality
check with the families on their future goals. Quality education: we assess the parents’
education and how they can meet their financial goals and, also, we assess their children’s…how
their children are doing in school and do the parents attend school meetings or are
they able to help with homework? If they’re not, we get involved with that. Early childhood
development: any children in their families that are 0 to 5 years old, we provide tools
for the parents to help prepare their children for school, and we encourage quality preschool.
So, when we first started building our assessment, we started with the research and planning.
We met with a lot of community partners, researched their tools and how they’re asking questions,
what kind of questions they’re asking. We really focused on motivational interviewing
for our case managers and their licensed clinical therapist, because it is their approach and
the way that they’re asking questions to get the customers moving forward. And we looked
at what is working now. As I said, the relationship is the key focus that customers have identified
in helping them move forward. We really wanted to focus on when we built our assessment,
how do we make it so we’re building a better relationship with those families. When we’re
assessing the families, it’s really important that we look at the customer as many times
the family support we’ve identified *** (unclear – 40:09) our program. Many of our customers
that have come over that are intergenerational poverty either support for the grandparents,
their parents, their brothers and sisters, and that’s something that really comes out
through the assessment. It includes always more than two generations, which is the grandparents,
siblings, nieces. A lot of times, they are living together or they’re supporting, babysitting
their kids. So, we want to assess the whole family. Sometimes, we’ll get the brothers
or the grandparents and we’ll talk to them about how we can move that family forward,
as well. And we also want to identify how the extended family impacts the customer.
Are there positive or negative supports? And identify those positive supports and family
that they can go to for assistance. With our motivational interviewing, we train our staff
on assessment. It needs to be detailed in order to build a realistic and credible plan.
So, we start with the individualized assessment and identify each individual and their circumstances.
Building the credible plan with the customer from that assessment and identifying little
steps that the customers can do and the families can do together builds the confidence and
helps them hope that they can meet their goals. And when the confidence… And when they’re
not building those goals, we always go back to the assessment. So, like I said earlier,
our assessment is more about the approach. And so, what we’ve asked our case managers
to do and what’s been very successful with this program is our assessment is a face-to-face
assessment. We supply tools for the case managers and train them on tools, but when they are
meeting one-on-one with the customer, we push the computer aside and have a face-to-face
conversation. And, as part of the motivational interviewing, we deliver affirmations to make
sure we’re identifying the positives and gaining the trust of the customer, which helps
build that relationship. One of our customers that has been very successful with the program,
we asked her about the difference between the way we’re doing assessment now compared
to the way we did it before where we were asking a list of questions, and she said she
loved the way we did it now. And her comment was, “I want to be able to see my employment
counselor listen and their emotional responses to what I’m talking about and feel validated.”
So, it’s very important. If they’re feeling validated, they’re giving us more information,
which helps us build that more credible plan. The… Training the staff: we need to make
sure that we’re training them on the approach and building that relationship where they’re
always thinking about those outcomes in the long run. We provide an assessment guide for
training, which covers the four domains. So, the guide during training has every question
that we could think of that you might want to ask the customer. The specific guide is
not used during the appointments. We let the customer guide the conversation. So, when
they come in, they might have specific circumstances that they want to talk about. So, we don’t
want to just ask specific questions to them and move on without validating what they want
to talk about. So, we let them guide the conversation while staying within the realm of our four
domains. We also have an assessment checklist that we provide to our staff, which, after
the appointment, they can check off which areas they’ve hit. And then we also do have
a case management system, we just don’t use it while we’re meeting with the customer.
So, when the customer leaves the appointment, anything that we want measured or report that…is
needed for reporting purposes, it’s filled out on that case management system after the
customer leaves. We train our staff that assessment is not a “one and done.” Assessment is
ongoing. Um, so every appointment is considered an assessment appointment. You’re always
gathering information to help build that plan and help the customer meet their goals. We
focus on the what, why, and how. Many times… This is part of motivational interviewing.
Many times, we’re finding out during the assessment what we want their goals to be
and then we jump right into how we can accomp…how they can meet those goals. We take a step
back and we always encourage our case managers to talk about the “why” and what *** (unclear
– 44:14.) The “why” is often skipped and so, when the customers are talking about the
“why,” it actually gets them excited about their goals. So, asking them how this is going
to help their families… For example, obtaining a high school diploma or GED: How is that
going to make your life different? Why is this important to you? What’s it going to
do for your family? Talking about the positives and the things that they want to see and it
gets them excited before we jump into the “how.” Part of our assessment, as we’re
gathering information, we help the coaches training and identif… We train them on identifying
the motivators. What’s going to motivate the customers to complete these goals and
what challenges do…are they going to need to overcome to meet these goals? So, that’s
where we need to identify resources, whether that’s through the Department of Workforce
Services or through community partners. We’ll give them resources. And we identify the goals
along the way during the assessment. So, we take a step back and once we identify…they
start talking during the assessment about something they want to accomplish, we’ll
stop and write down that goal. Once we identify what they want to do, we also build their
motivation, confidence, and knowledge. So, asking them how motivated they are on a scale
of 1 to 10 and how knowledgeable they are, how confident they are to face that goal.
And then, asking them why it’s not a lower score actually talks…gets them talking about
the why and why it’s so important to them. So, this is a clear example of part of our
quality…our assessment guide, quality assessment guide that the case managers use during training,
and they can pull it out at any time, but we just really encourage them not to use it
while they’re meeting with their customers. And this is the checklist, a sample of the
checklist that they use after the appointment, so they can check off what’s been done.
So, during the next appointment, they can review that before the customer comes in and
identifies areas that they might want to accomplish during that appointment.
So, what’s next for us in the state of Utah? We have learned some strategies from these
three projects that Marion…that she talked about the family assessment. And we are moving
those strategies and interventions into our regular case management program, and we’re
calling it the Family Focused Case Management Approach. And we started a training academy
where we’ll be utilizing this family assessment, making some tweaks to our regular program
that is quite compliant based on work activities. And so, it will include things like the coaching
training that Marion talked about, motivational interviewing, a whole family assessment, executive
functioning, and trauma awareness. And that’s what we’ve been doing and we’re excited
about the journey we’re on. We still have, uh, haven’t finished with our third pilot,
getting all of the participants, and we’re going to test a couple of other strategies
we haven’t done before. And so, the story continues. Thank you.
Well, thank you, everyone. Very great presentations. We were very happy to hear about all the different
activities going on in the various jurisdictions. We currently have one question, but just a
reminder that if you have any questions for our presenters, we have about 10 minutes left.
We can take some more questions and if you could just submit those through the chat feature.
So, we’ll go ahead and ask our first question. It was written for Illinois, but it does apply
to everyone. “So how long do all of these assessments typically take and, if you have
any challenges with the burden that may be placed on the individual or the family, where
is the information housed and who can access the information?” So, let’s take the first
part first. About how long do each of the assessments take?
Would you like for me to start, Damon? This is Jill from Illinois.
Sure. We don’t have, really, a set time. It really
depends on the number of clients that we are interviewing in a particular case, but I can
give you some general guidelines. For each adult that we are assessing, it takes somewhere
between 1 and a half and 2 hours. For our older children, it takes generally around
45 minutes to an hour. And when I talk about our older children, I’m talking about 11
and above and children who are 6 to 11, we’re generally talking about 13, excuse me, about
30 minutes. And then, for our little newborns, the most…45% of our kids are birth to three,
just to give you an idea. Um, really, you know, doing those developmental screens, it
only takes about 15 minutes. Um, so you really, kind of, have to calculate that based on the
number of people that we would be interviewing, and we do try not to—and I know some of
the folks said this, too—we really try not to, really, sort of, overwhelm the family
and try to do all of this in 1 day. So, we may just do mom and dad. We may do the child
and a substitute caregiver another day. We really, really want to take into account both
the needs of the family, and we certainly also gauge the, kind of, mental health status,
emotional functioning of our parents. Our assessments are pretty intense and can be
really difficult sometimes, particularly when we’re talking about trauma and family developmental
issues. So, we definitely want to gauge that and use our clinical skills in making sure
that we’re not really burdening the family both emotionally and from a time standpoint.
I can certainly add to this, as well. Um, from an Illinois standpoint, I, kind of, want
to, kind of, piggyback on something that Marion said, and, you know, our clients really feel
pretty validated by this process. They really… You know, like, it’s important to them to
be able to tell their story. They feel like our assessment team, which is the worker and
their IA screener, are empowering them to be a part of their own service planning. We
ask them, much as other folks have talked about today, you know, “What are your goals?
Why are those important to you?” And we put those in the report. They read the report
and we identify the things that are important to them, and this is why. So, many times,
particularly in child welfare, many of you have talked about voluntary service today.
I regret to say that most of our *** (unclear – 51:01) aren’t voluntary, and so we definitely
want to be cognizant of our need to really use expert engagement skills with our families.
It makes them feel appreciated and a part of the process. We house all of our assessment
information in our state-automated child and welfare information system, which is available
to all of our contractual stakeholders who are servicing our children and to our court
personnel. And if we have some outside service providers, we do provide them with the Integrated
Assessment, utilizing the necessary release information consistent with, you know, them
as an adult and for our children 12 and older. Thank you. Washington or Utah, about how long
does the process take for you? Our assessment… Our first appointments with
our families are probably an hour to 2 hours each, probably our first and second appointment.
But after that, they’re probably an hour each. To begin, like I said, the assessment
is ongoing, so we continue to gather information all the time. So, there isn’t a completion
date for our assessment. And this is Debbie in Washington. The same
is true here. It’s… The initial Comprehensive Evaluation takes anywhere from an hour to
2 hours and, as they update and work, it’s dependent on what areas they’re addressing.
Great. Thank you. So, where is the information housed? Is it central and who has access to
it? Is it on, like, a state server or somewhere else?
This is Marion from Utah. Our information is on a state server and our whole department
has access to that information except for the licensed clinical therapist assessments;
those are just the licensed clinical therapists that have access.
And in Washington State, they’re also housed on a state server in our, what we call our
EGA system. It’s our case management system. And our partners working with the participants
have access to the information, as well as all our case managers and special service
specialists. Great. Thank you. And another question came
in. “Do the assessments only occur in the office or do any of you use…take place in
home visits?” This is Jill from Illinois. Our goal is to
always complete the assessment in the family’s home unless there are identified safety issues.
We feel it’s extremely important to meet our clients on their territory versus our
own territory. That takes away some of that defensiveness; however, again, given the population
we serve, there are sometimes safety issues where we’re not able to do that and, in
domestic violence situations, if we feel like there’s not an opportunity in a home environment
to separate the victim from the perpetrator, we may conduct one of the assessments in a
public setting, whether it’s a child welfare office or court building or other community
setting that provides confidentiality. This is Marion from Utah. With our Next Generation
Kids project, we ask the customers what’s going to be more convenient for them. So,
we will do them in our location or in their home. With our current program or TANF program,
we do do them in our centers, which we may be changing based on our information that
we’ve gathered. And in Washington State they are done in the
community service offices. We have not explored doing them outside of the office at this time.
Okay. Thank you. This is Jill from Illinois. Um, I would like
to just make one other comment about doing them within the home. We often find that folks
present in the office of being like very organized or…you know, having a skill set that they
can communicate to us verbally. But, when we go to their home, it’s one of those “pictures
speak a thousand words,” and, sometimes, we’re able to confront some inconsistencies
and the verbal information they provide to us just by looking at their home environment,
as well as the interaction of folks coming in and out of their homes and that kind of
thing. So, there’s some additional clinical value for us in child welfare to do those
assessments in the home. And this is Karla. I’d like to add one more
thing. One thing that I don’t think we explained is our project for not entering… Uh, projects
for Next Gen Kids are located in the community. We’re at a Head Start office in one and
two schools in the other two sites, and then our other regular… We’re testing that
environment. Our other cash assistance program that we’re testing for are done in our employment
centers, but we do have the option to do home visits and there may be some of that going
on, but, mostly, it is taking place in our employment centers. But we’re having a lot
of success being out in the community. Great. Thank you all. And one last question
before we close out. There was one question that came in for everyone, um, “What would
you say is the first step that programs should take? What are those initial things they should
consider when they’re thinking about improving their assessment process?”
Hi, this is Marion from Utah. I think it’s always important to look at your goals and
outcomes that you want to meet before you start building the assessment and do a lot
of research. This is Jill from Illinois. Um, one of the
things that we found to be extremely important was to do some surveys of our clients and
our outside stakeholders before we started the process, and then we found it extremely
critical, again, for a very large *** (unclear – 57:29) in our state *** and administer child
welfare program. So, it was extremely important for us to ensure that we had all administration
on board and that the support and direction came from, kind of, the top down, so that
as we met challenges we were able to, you know, kind of, move those up and down that
administrative structure. This is Debbie from Washington. I agree with
everything that’s been said so far. I also think it’s important to include the people
that are going to be doing the assessment and getting all the right people in the room.
I think another really important thing is, we call it, “you need to have the ship pretty
much built before you start sailing it, but you also need to realize there’s some shipbuilding
that needs to happen.” So, when you’re sailing, I mean, you have to really remain
pretty flexible in what you are doing and, kind of, have an ongoing evaluation process
and not be afraid to change things if they’re not working.
Great. Thanks for those responses. So now, I will actually turn it over to Lisa Washington-Thomas
to close out. Okay. I just want to thank you very much.
I just want to thank Jill, Debbie, Karla, Marion, and Jennifer and Damon. Thank you
so much for your participation on today’s webinar. We are exactly… We’re 1 minute
over. So, we hope this session has been informative and look forward to continuing work with you.
To the extent that we’re not able to answer all of your questions today, we will place
them on the Peer TA website and that is [email protected] If you have further inquiries, please contact
me by…at my email address [email protected] Thank you so very much. Please answer our
survey that will pop up after this webinar is over. The information is very helpful in
planning future webinars. So, thank you so much and enjoy the rest of your afternoon.

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