Sunday, April 3, 2011

The frustrations of a time limited program

I work in a program which is supposed to be a one year employment program for adults with mental health concerns. It's a great program and I have a great job. The one thing that frustrates me is that because of the way we're funded, it's only supposed to be a year.

In one sense, the limited nature of the funding means that we are constantly pushing ourselves to work hard as our contract gets renewed at the end of each year based on the fact that a certain percentage of our clients find employment. Unfortunately, our funding is not based on a percentage of our clients maintaining employment or finding the job that works for them.

Our program starts with four weeks of preemployment workshops/groups/classes, whatever you want to call them. They're half day and are supposed to help people get back in the routine of working. They're quite structured and we take attendance and have small homework expectations, mostly reflections. We cover things like stress management, assertiveness, problem solving, cover letters, interviews etc... It's great. The problem is though, that sometimes after the workshops there's a big let down and/or clients discover they aren't quite ready to commit to looking for work. They need more TIME.

Then there's the mental illness factor. I don't know about most people, but at least with my anxiety, while there are some patterns to it, there are also times I really don't see it coming. The same is true for my clients, and often what is needed is more TIME to stabilize. Unfortunately, the lack of stability often sees us discharging clients when perhaps the routine and support of our program is what they need the most.

And finally, for today at least. There's the employment support factor. We provide people with an employment support counsellor to help them keep their jobs. But lots of times issues don't surface in the first three or six months of a job, they come a bit later. Or people lose one job, get another, and don't have much time to work with employment support to plan how to not lose their current job.

This isn't the world's most coherent post, but I really wanted to get back to posting about social work, and this is a start!

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