What is the overall impact of the initiative and how is this measured?
We report on quantitative targets that we have to meet – these include the number of learners served, suitability of clients, client progress, client satisfaction, and number of referrals made (connecting people to other resources/supports in the community).
What challenges have you faced and how were these overcome?
Client challenges include: marginalization, issues related to poverty and homelessness, mental health, addiction, language barriers (English may not be their first language), racism, historical issues and trauma (e.g., around colonization, residential schools, Sixties Scoop). They may have had challenges succeeding in education in the past and are facing that trauma when coming back for upgrading.
Making adequate referrals to community services and programs has helped to overcome these challenges. Once people have the resources/supports in place to meet their basic human needs, they can focus on their education.
We also get people involved, if they like, in the other programs at the Friendship Centre (e.g. counselling, supports, cultural activities). We want to make the centre as open as we can.
What are 3 key lessons you learned from developing or delivering your initiative? What advice from those lessons would you share with others?
• You need to focus on marketing & promotion – need to make community agencies aware that you exist, and aware of what you do or don’t do
• You need make sure the client is ready for the program – first you have to develop some level of trust with them to talk about their personal issues, barriers, or challenges they face. Are they ready for a training program, or should they be referred elsewhere to address more basic/pressing needs?
• Make use of volunteers – we work with Frontier College volunteers who are trained, motivated to be involved in literacy in the community, and can complement staff for 1-on-1 time with clients
Incorporation of Essential Skills
Which Essential Skills are covered by the initiative?
Working with Others
How are the Essential Skills integrated into your initiative?
We follow the Ontario Adult Literacy Curriculum and use it as a guideline to incorporate essential skills.
How do you assess participant Essential Skills?
We use an initial assessment to develop a training plan, informal assessments throughout the program via tasks, Milestones and Culminating Tasks, and an exit assessment.
What are the components of the initiative?
Career and/or educational planning
Cultural, language, and tradition awareness and/or training
How do you support participant success in the program?
Child care support
Access to other in-house services
After program follow-up support
How was Indigenous culture integrated into the program content or delivery?
Indigenous culture is integrated into the program curriculum – we use resources from ONLC for task-based activities, and incorporate cultural and land-based activities wherever possible. We offer Ojibwe language classes, have a cultural coordinator who does crafts and cultural teachings, and promote the services at the Friendship Centre related to culture and family.
The cultural component is built in to the program, but is optional – it’s made available for those who want to experience it.
What do you think are the most important competencies and attributes for staff involved in this initiative to have?
• Teaching skills
• Cultural awareness and sensitivity
• Knowledge of community resources – need to make referrals
• Crisis intervention skills
• Knowledge of mental health, addictions, and poverty related issues
• Social service work background
• Caring, patient, friendly, respectful
Staff are dealing with whole person in the program – we take a holistic approach that is in tune with the learner’s needs, and focus on relationship-based learning. Students have to feel comfortable coming to us with issues so that we can go beyond academics to help them out.
Who are your partners, and what is their involvement in the initiative?
Employment Ontario partnerships:
• Literacy Northwest
• Alpha Plus (tech support)
• Sioux Husdons Literacy/Good Learning Anywhere
• Contact North
• Confederation College
• Thunder Bay Literacy Group
• Frontier College
• NEW & YES employment
• Metis Association of Ontario
• New Directions Speakers School
• Friendship Centre Programs & Services (referrals to and from)