2. Outreach and Goal-Setting
3. Case Management / Coaching
4. Increasing Earnings
5. Building Financial Capability
6. FSS Infrastructure
3. Case Management / Coaching
Regular meetings and communication with FSS participants help to keep participants on track to achieve their goals and provide opportunities to offer encouragement and support, as well as referrals to resources and trainings.
This video clip provides some guidelines.
FSS © 2017 | U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
While there are no hard and fast rules about how and how often to communicate with FSS participants, FSS coordinators report that regular and frequent communication is the bedrock of a strong coordinator-participant relationship and necessary to build and maintain trust with their participants.
This video emphasizes the importance of patience and commitment in working with participants.
When determining how frequently to meet with participants, consider whether the participant is experiencing particular challenges or obstacles, whether he or she is working or enrolled in educational or job training, and, perhaps most importantly, the strength of your relationship with the participant. Coordinators’ recommendations range from weekly meetings with participants who are having challenges to quarterly or semiannual meetings with participants who are steadily on track to achieve their goals. The frequency of meetings depends on many factors and will likely change over time.
Some general rules of thumb, based on FSS coordinator input, include:
The key for FSS participants at all stages is to maintain regular contact at an appropriate level that is sufficient to build and sustain a supportive and trusting relationship.
Most FSS program coordinators prefer to hold in-person meetings with participants in the FSS program office, although meetings may also be held in another private setting, such as the participants’ home or workplace. Meeting participants in their home environment can provide insight into some of the barriers to self-sufficiency that the participants might not bring up on their own, or even recognize, such as furniture, clothing, and housekeeping needs. Some coordinators emphasize the importance of having a meeting in-home soon after enrollment to meet all family members in a location that is comfortable and familiar to the participants if the family agrees and the program coordinator has sufficient time to make a home visit without compromising other responsibilities.
After the initial assessment, other forms of contact can supplement in-person meetings and increase the frequency of contact without requiring as much time or resources, especially for participants who are employed and/or enrolled in education or training programs. These include:
Some PHAs and owners also convene group meetings that provide an opportunity for FSS participants to share their experiences, knowledge, and perspectives with one another. These meetings also allow coordinators to informally check in with their participants.
In the video clips, practitioners discuss how FSS coordinators in their programs use these approaches.
Ultimately, you should use your best judgment and develop a unique communication plan for each participant based on his or her assessment, needs, and progress. You should meet with a participant and/or the family as often, in person or virtually, as the participant needs to achieve his or her goals and address family members’ needs.
The focus of participant meetings will shift over time as participants progress through the program and encounter new challenges and opportunities.
Early conversations will center on the participant’s current situation, conducting baseline assessments, and handling critical issues.
Then, participants will work with the coordinator to create the Individual Training and Services Plan (ITSP) with long- and short-term goals and target dates to meet those goals.
During subsequent meetings with residents, coordinators should check in on how the participant and the family are doing overall, review individual goals and progress with ITSPs, follow up on any previous referrals to service providers or programs, and review budget and credit issues.
To get the most out of meetings with participants, some coordinators create meeting checklists. The items on the checklist will change over the course of the program, depending on whether the participant is newly enrolled, progressing toward his or her goals, or approaching graduation. This tool can be used to follow up on progress toward goals, check on the status of referrals to services or trainings, and stay on top of other challenges that may arise over time.
Below are several examples of coordinators’ checklists covering the following topics:
The following tips may also be useful to consider when planning meetings with participants:
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