Train for Trades does not use a formal case management system. Following the very detailed initial intake and assessment, they document youth’s progress and supports in individual case files using Word.
When youth are involved with other service agencies, joint agency meetings are held to ensure the provision of wraparound services. These other agencies may maintain files using other systems and hold ongoing assessments.
A requirement of funding is the use of ARMS (Accountability Resource Management System), however this tool only flags employment & training.
Homeless Hub Thoughts:
The support available to youth throughout the program is exceptional yet also necessitates a low staff to client ratio (Train for Trades has a ratio of about 1 staff to 1.5-2 youth). Agencies need to consider the level of staffing they can afford to maintain and allow that to determine the level of support they can provide to youth. It will not be possible for all agencies to provide such an intensive support level for youth. The use of referrals to other agencies is important to help provide sufficient support when working with high-risk youth. Case conferences are key to ensure wraparound supports for the youth.
The after-hours support available at T4T is admirable and yet can clearly present challenges for staff. A shared roster of on-call duties may create the most flexibility for programs that wish to implement this level of support. That would give staff a bit more freedom and time off while also ensuring that youth always have access to staff support.
We do recommend the use of a case management program to ensure the smooth collection of data and reporting to funders, as well as to easily identify trends. We also recommend ongoing assessments to track client progress.
In the Youth Transitional Housing Toolkit, we discuss Efforts to Outcomes, which is one example of a good case management program; there are many others. In that toolkit we also highlight case plans, which further enables accurate data collection and consistency in reporting. If you are thinking of implementing a case management program, we encourage you to look at these resources.
There are also two case management tools – Youth Engagement Scale (YES) and Outcomes Star – that are tied to case planning and embedded within the case management software. There are multiple tools available and agencies may choose to create their own; the key is having tools at hand and training staff in their use.