What is the overall impact of the initiative and how is this measured?
The program goals are measured by tracking the number of learners who express interest and enter the program, number of learners who have consistent attendance, number of tutors trained, weekly progress notes, writing samples and assignment completion, as well as gathering continuous feedback from participants through surveys, questions, and testimonials.
Attendance tracking; staff supervision – Both the staff supervisor of the Stan Daniels Healing Centre and our volunteer tutors monitor participant engagement. Engagement is strongly marked by attendance and their comfort level and enthusiasm demonstrated through one-on-one interactions. The staff person is involved in coaching the learners to attend more regularly if there is a drop in attendance. Also, most learners are recruited into the program when they come forward themselves and express a need to learn and achieve their goals, so generally there is adequate motivation and engagement.
Transition into employment is a strong indicator of achievement of goals. Staff at Healing Centre provides information as to the number of learners transitioning into suitable employment as a result of skill upgrading through tutor sessions.
What challenges have you faced and how were these overcome?
Staff turnover at partner organisation. Program was initiated and discontinued almost every year due to staff turnover leading to challenges with program supervision. A program renewal commitment was implemented in Fall 2017. A program at the sister centre, Buffalo Sage Wellness House, has been restarted for female inmates in Winter 2019.
What are 3 key lessons you learned from developing or delivering your initiative? What advice from those lessons would you share with others?
- Flexibility is key: attendance from learners is not always guaranteed and can change last minute. Because of the transient nature of the population, learners may also unexpectedly be transferred out of SDHC facility. It is important for tutors to take a flexible approach to working with their learners, as learners’ agendas can change depending on circumstances.
- Positive relationship building is key: Even though it is a challenge with regulating learner attendance, having a one-on-one pairing between learner and tutor creates that trust and desire for learner to come back to each session, knowing they will get one-on-one help with their individualized goals. Also when there is consistency with the pairings, deeper and more focused learning happens.
- More resources targeted to learners: because of the limitations placed on inmates, they may not have access or funds to the resources they want to learn. For examples, there are obvious barriers of some learners being confined inside facility at all times, some learners who have day parole but do not know how to apply for further education, as well as learners requesting a need for free, centralized Trades Work resources.
What have participants, stakeholders and partners thought, felt and/or said about your initiative?
“I have had a great time in this program. I’ve learned that everyone makes mistakes and I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. Working with a specific tutor who is suited to my future plans is exactly right in my opinion. My understanding of social work has grown so much working with Fatima. She has shown me a great deal with what I can expect in my future. I feel very supported by all the tutors as well. I am a little uncomfortable being in a class with others, but I know that is just my own issues to work on, which I have been doing. I feel that this tutoring program has so much potential in helping other men like me.” – Dan, a learner who wants to pursue a degree in social work, commenting on his tutor relationship with his tutor, Fatima, who is currently studying social work.
“I’ve had a very positive experience with this program! I feel like this program is very valuable and truly helps and supports people who are limited by circumstances out of their control. Increasing resources available to the program (eg. For books, application fees, etc.) would be one improvement I’d recommend. Otherwise, I feel very safe and supported in this environment.” –Rhea, a volunteer tutor who started the program in Fall 2018.
Incorporation of Essential Skills
Which Essential Skills are covered by the initiative?
Working with Others
How are the Essential Skills integrated into your initiative?
Essential skills are integrated into this initiative by tutors asking the goals of each learner and figuring out what skills learners need to work on to reach their goals. For example, if a learner wants to go into carpentry, they need to know basic numeracy of reading a tape measure and calculating numbers. If someone wants to apply for a job, they can learn essential computer skills, such as how to format a resume on Microsoft Word and tips on email etiquette when communicating with a prospective employer. Essential skills are integrated through personalized approaches.
How do you assess participant Essential Skills?
Once the program gains momentum, Frontier College plans to conduct official assessments. Currently, volunteer tutors conduct pre- and post-informal assessments utilizing Frontier College evaluation resources such as, participant monthly learning plans and goal setting forms. No formal assessments are conducted.
What are the components of the initiative?
Career and/or educational planning
Job search services
Cultural, language, and tradition awareness and/or training
How do you support participant success in the program?
How was Indigenous culture integrated into the program content or delivery?
Healing Centre places strong emphasis on culture, tradition and language. Tutors and learners take a holistic unforced approach to learning; as a result, learners will only show up if they feel like it. Also, if learners do not want to work on numeracy and literacy activities for full session, tutors will steer conversation towards other interests and goals learners want to talk about.
What do you think are the most important competencies and attributes for staff involved in this initiative to have?
Volunteer tutors undergo sensitivity training which emphasizes the importance of and respect for culture, language and tradition while working with this population.
Who are your partners, and what is their involvement in the initiative?
|Stan Daniels Healing Centre (Native Counselling Services of Alberta/NCSA)
Buffalo Sage Wellness House (NCSA)
|Assist inmates at Stan Daniel Healing Centre to reintegrate back into society and to feel confident in their skills.
||Supervision, space provision, learner referral, on-site resource support for volunteer tutors