The longer I am employed at Family Tree, the more I appreciate the value of an integrated services approach to serving our clients. It’s wonderful to offer help in one area, but it’s even better to be able to address multiple areas of need without sending clients to several different agencies. Collaboration among the programs at Family Tree results in a more client-centered, trauma-informed model of service.
Typically, our clients seek out Family Tree due to a primary need in the area of either child abuse and neglect, domestic violence or homelessness. However, there is often overlap between these areas, which necessitates the integrated services approach. Because our clients are often in crisis when they come to us, fear and lack of knowledge of available resources may prohibit them from asking about additional services. Common examples include clients fleeing domestic violence, who are now circumstantially also experiencing homelessness; clients who are experiencing homelessness and also need help finding employment; and clients who are seeking help with domestic violence support groups who also need legal assistance.
When a Case Manager or Advocate at Family Tree discovers another need, we must be aware of the nuances involved in referring them to another Family Tree program. For example, does the program have current openings, or the capacity to help right now? Does the program offer services in the county in which the client resides?
Because we have twelve direct service programs at Family Tree, it can feel confusing and overwhelming to learn about each one. This is particularly true for new team members, who are both needing to learn their unique role within one program, and also about the agency as a whole. In order to ensure that our team has the understanding, ability, skillset and relationships to provide access to the appropriate Family Tree services, the Integration Committee has developed a new training program called the Family Tree Programs Overview. These quarterly, half-day sessions are designed to educate team members about each program at Family Tree, through presentations, printed materials, and the opportunity for additional program shadowing.
We also recognize that a true integrated services model entails more than just one training session. To aid in knowledge retention, team members have bi-monthly small group meetings with employees from across the agency to help further dialogue about our programs, and to inform each other about any changes in services. We also offer monthly brown bag trainings and CEO Coffee Chats – a chance to talk directly with our CEO about Family Tree. Lastly, the Integration Committee meets monthly to design and implement ways to enhance our integrated services model at Family Tree.
Family Tree is committed to addressing the interconnectedness of these issues as well as our value of Collaboration. We are enthusiastic about Family Tree Programs Overview, the new training that will strengthen our team’s ability to provide integrated services and help people overcome child abuse, domestic violence and homelessness.