Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Tri-Cities Catalyst Centre

Many of you are aware that I am on the Board of Directors of SHARE Family and Community Services which serves the Tri-Cities (Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody, BC). The Board recently approved the investigation of a new model of delivery for some of our services.
  As part of the new model,  SHARE has issued a Request for Proposals and we hope to have selected an individual or firm to help us complete the development of the model. The information below may help and the RFP information is included here. If you are interested check out our website for more information.


Every year, SHARE is the “starting point” for thousands of people who need assistance. Although we have been active in the Tri-Cities for 42 years, we sometimes struggle to keep up with the different programs and services that are available to vulnerable people in our community. If this is happening within our agency, it is safe to say it is happening on a larger scale in the Tri-Cities.

If we struggle to stay abreast of the services available in our community, imagine the challenge that clients face in navigating the system and getting the help that they need, especially when we consider that they are often dealing with significant income, health, mental health, language, housing, abuse and/or other issues.

In response to this challenge, SHARE will be developing a new approach to providing services for people who are struggling to meet their basic needs: a “Catalyst Centre” model, that will help clients develop the skills and get the support they need to move forward. Potential services might include:

The focus of the proposed Catalyst Centre will be to quickly and clearly understand the needs of clients and to bring together, in one location where possible, the services and supports required to help them develop and implement a plan to move forward.  Putting this information and support under one roof, or in a campus or networked setting, would:

ü  Lessen the travel, time and cost burdens for people with limited incomes and limited transportation options;

ü  Help us consolidate our information-gathering systems, to create a clearer and more reliable picture of service needs, outcomes and other useful information;

ü  Create more opportunities to leverage skills, knowledge, relationships and resources from multiple individuals and agencies, towards common goals;

ü  Simplifying referral procedures between services and agencies;

ü  Identifying and addressing unnecessary duplications of systems and processes that create delays in service.

Clients will complete an intake process where key information is gathered and initial priorities related to basic needs are established. Clients will be assigned a Coach who will be their primary contact and who will act as a case manager, advocate and referral agent. The Coach will help clients develop a realistic plan and will regularly check in with clients to monitor their progress and provide feedback and other support where appropriate.

The goals that will be pursued, in all circumstances, are increased independence and improved quality of life for all clients, which could mean:

- improved ability to secure and prepare appropriate food;

- improved employment-related skills that are appropriate for the labour market;

-   participating in recreation programs;

- achieving a high school diploma;

- getting government identification cards;

- staring a small business;

- finding affordable child care;

- improving literacy skills;

- learning a new language;

- dealing with a chronic health or mental health concern;

- finding stable housing;

- escaping abuse;

- building supportive and constructive relationships;

- dealing with an addiction.

Our interactions with clients will focus on finding their strengths, helping them build their skills and knowledge, asking them to be part of their own solution and asking them to give back.

It may seem counter intuitive to ask people with significant economic and other challenges to give back, but the very act of asking clients to give back communicates that they have something important to give to others, which is a value that SHARE supports. Giving back could mean many things, including:

- helping to raise, sort, cook or distribute food;

- child minding;

- repairing broken items;

- tutoring;

- teaching others how to use a computer, or a mobile device;

- leading a cooking class;

- planting a community garden;

- providing translation services;

- helping with an afterschool program;

- translating;

- preparing tax returns.

The Catalyst Centre model will not require clients to give back in order to receive the support, but, where and when it is appropriate,  we will invite clients to participate, which moves us further towards an approach that is based on an exchange of value.

We believe that there are many potential benefits attached to this new direction, including:

ü  Developing and implementing a more substantial data gathering and reporting function, built on stronger intake and client engagement  processes, that will help us identify:

- gaps in service;
- approaches that work;
- approaches that don’t work;
- service trends in the Tri-Cities.

ü  Creating opportunities for clients to experience more success and to gain critical new skills and self-confidence.

ü  Developing more meaningful opportunities for volunteers to provide service and support.

ü  Decreasing the amount of time it takes for clients to get the services they need.

ü  Decreasing transportation, child care and other costs for clients, by offering more access to services in one location.

At this stage, the Catalyst Centre model needs to be more fully developed. SHARE has issued a Request for Proposals and we hope to have selected an individual or firm to help us complete the development of the model, including:

ü  A complete funding proposal, including rationale, that can be submitted to multiple potential funding sources for support

ü  Roster of permanent and itinerant services to be provided

ü  Complete intake and referral procedures

ü  Data gathering and reporting systems and procedures

ü  Staff organization chart and job descriptions

ü  Start-up and annual operating budgets

ü  Potential sources of funding

ü  Potential service partners (permanent and itinerant)

ü  Service delivery space requirements and flow

ü  Completed logic model

We are excited about the development of the new model and believe that this evolution of service delivery will increase our ability to bring efficient and effective services and support to vulnerable people in our Tri-Cities community. We will be looking for input from people and groups throughout our community as the Catalyst Centre model is developed.

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