Term Paper: Homelessness Intervention Social Work Universally

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[. . .] The four components appear to be critical for the ability of the program to achieve its stated objective: Stable employment for formerly homeless people. Three of the four components differentiate highly successful job training programs from less successful job training services. Recruitment and selection procedures ensure that individuals selected for the program do not intractable problems and that they are currently in a place in their lives to actively engage in and benefit from the program. The two follow-up components require a richer funding base than is required of a typical employment placement program or job training services. This type of support is often seen when developing jobs in community settings for people with developmental disabilities, but it is rare for policy makers to provide this intense level of support in job training and work placement for people who have been or are homeless.

Model Job Training Program

FareStart is an example of a non-profit organization that provides job training in the food and beverage industry. FareStart also recognizes the importance of employment counseling to their trainees and follow-up consulting to the employers that hire trainees who have graduated from their programs. FareStart operates Catalyst Kitchens, which is a national effort in the U.S. that is based on a peer network with a shared mission to empower homeless or formerly homeless people. The Catalyst Kitchens provide opportunity for food service job training such that program participants can self-generate revenue through the social enterprise they construct. The program also aims to provide quality food service that nourishes bodies, minds, and spirits.

Catalyst Kitchens are effectively particularly because they are able to leverage scale by uniting the efforts of like-minded organizations. The network of organizations shares agreed-upon best practices and collectively holds all members to high standards. The result of such focused collaboration is transformed lives and long-lasting, replicable solutions to the problem of homelessness. In the next half-decade, the Catalyst Kitchens plan to launch 50 new food service job training programs, provide food service job training to approximately 6,000 people, and serve about 10 million nutritious meals each year. Clearly, the Catalyst Kitchens model describes a way to leverage the varied experience of it member organizations.

A key point to be made when discussing the work of the FareStart may be summed up by the beginning line of their mission statement: "FareStart provides a community that transforms lives." The operative word is community. It is FareStart's position, and indeed the position of many experts on homelessness, that the absence of supportive community connections underscores most instances of homelessness. This holds true, FareStart insists, regardless of whether the threshold problem to the loss of home was domestic violence, financial hardship, mental illness, substance abuse, or chemical dependency. These problems and other specific factors can be substantively mediated through appropriate and comprehensive support from the community. The strength of this belief drives the efforts of FareStart to restore community connection where it has been lost and to build community connection where it has not existed before. In this manner, the individual cycles of homeless can be ended and the collective problem of homelessness can be eradicated from the community. Programs like Catalyst Kitchens have the capacity to enable formerly homeless individuals to achieve self-sufficiency goals, gain and keep employment, and acquire skills that will be marketable today and in the future. Homelessness can become a thing of the past, and formerly homeless people can construct new futures for themselves, while helping to build stronger communities overall.

For a program like the Catalyst Kitchens to work on a large scale, such as would be required in the city of Ottawa, a number of recommendations would need to be applied. These recommendations are discussed in the following section.

Recommendations

Best practices in the effort to eliminate homelessness are to be found in coordinated and collaborative community-based work. It is essential to focus on capacity building in the community that addresses the causes of homelessness and not just the symptoms. Capacity building must be inclusive of service providers, governmental agencies, business community individuals, and client contributions. Integrated data collection and analysis provides a basis for more transparent accountability, which is a key support to good stewardship and the elimination of unnecessary redundancies.

Based on the model demonstration comprehensive job training programs, this policy brief recommends that the city of Ottawa adopt a dual emphasis in its initiative to eliminate homelessness. Funding must address the cause and the symptoms of homelessness. The policy action to bring this intention to the fore is movement away from an exclusive homes first orientation that is not making sufficient inroads into the homelessness situation in the city. The city must fund programs that at once establish homes and jobs. The following recommendations are intended to establish the political will and social framework to enable a dual focus in the eliminate homelessness effort.

1. Invite and sustain collaboration among all pertinent stakeholders.

2. Ensure representation of the eliminate homelessness policy in an established governmental committee to ensure continuation on the legislative docket.

3. Enact legislation to fund proactive policy to eliminate homelessness.

4. Establish an oversight committee with representation from all stakeholder groups, including the homeless and formerly homeless contingents.

5. Require regular reporting on the evaluation of program implementation to the legislative body.

6. Stipulate and regulate participation of all publically funded agencies in the eliminate homelessness policies.

7. Establish a safe-harbor agreement regarding homeless people with the mayor's office, the municipal human services departments, local police departments, and security service providers.

8. Enlist multimedia coverage of visible food services, as well as less-visible training activities.

9. Establish a broad funding base that is enhanced by credible food-related activities.

10. Ensure community validation through participation of prominent food industry and community members.

11. Establish multiple venues for dining, catering, and training.

12. Establish compensated contractual arrangements for the provision of meals to institutions and organizations.

References

Abbenante, M. And Spellman, B. (2008, February 8). Performance Measurement. [Presentation at the NAEH Conference on Ending Family Homelessness.

Alliance to End Homelessness. Ottawa. (2010). Retrieved http://www.endhomelessnessottawa.ca/

Dilling, L.B and Davis, C. (2008). Community Action Plan on Homelessness: 2009-2012. The Road to Ending Homelessness in Ottawa [Prepared for: The Homelessness Community Capacity Building Steering Committee]. Retrieved http://www.endhomelessnessottawa.ca/documents/CommunityActionPlanonHomelessness2009-2014.pdf

Dinning, B. (2005). The Experience of homeless women: Considerations for an effective harm reduction response.

FareStart. (2012). Retrieved http://www.farestart.org/index.html

Ontario Municipal Social Services Association (OMSSA). (2005). Demonstrating the value of social investments: A resource document for OMSSA members.

Steve Pomeroy, S. And Berrigan, B. (2007, October). Costs of responding to homelessness in Ottawa: Proactive vs. reactive responses.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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