Riverview Gardens (RVG) is an innovative nonprofit organization with a mission to transform a community located in Appleton, Wisconsin. RVG provides transferable skill-based job training called ServiceWorks® for our community members with significant barriers to obtaining and maintaining stable employment. After graduation from ServiceWorks, RVG helps place graduates into stable jobs in our community and support them to ensure long-term stability. ServiceWorks participants complete a minimum of 90 hours of service, maintain a consistent work schedule, participate in one-on-one progress meetings, and commit to growth in the following four areas of transferable work skills: efficient use of time, quality of work, interactions with peers, and attitude toward supervisors. Graduates who receive assistance from RVG for employment placement receive two years of aftercare services focused on maintaining employment, finding new employment if needed, and barrier removal.
As part of working with individuals in need in our community, Riverview Gardens has a partnership with Ryan Community, which is a Community Based Residential Facility that embraces a “Community Approach” for Department of Corrections referrals. Ryan Community residents are challenged to examine their thinking patterns that directly affect their behaviors. Residents are challenged to examine themselves, believing that increased awareness will benefit not only the client, but also the community into which they transition. All residents are enrolled and participate in ServiceWorks for the time they reside at Ryan Community.
Enrollment into ServiceWorks involves completing an intake form, brief assessment, property orientation, and completion of the Conover Personal Responsibility assessment. The intake form focuses on the individual’s employment, education, and criminal background and also identifying any barriers to employment. The intake form is completed with the individual in order to gather the intake information and also do a brief initial assessment as to where the individual is at with regards to moving forward. Additional evaluations are completed at 30, 60, and 90 hours in to the program and are focused on transferable work skills.
Part of the initial intake is to have the participant take the online Conover Personality Responsibility assessment that is 120 questions focused on goal setting and behaviors related to taking responsibility for actions. On average, it takes an individual about 30-45 minutes to complete and is quite user-friendly. The individual takes the assessment while at Riverview Gardens. After completion, results are reviewed one on one between RVG’s social worker and participants and used to determine areas for improvement and goal setting. The assessment is performed again at 90 hours in preparation for the participant exiting ServiceWorks and the Ryan Community. The post assessment results are reviewed by RVG’s social worker and discussed with the participant and compared to the initial results. Year to date, one hundred thirty-three individuals have taken the Personal Responsibility assessment.
The online assessments are convenient, provide reliable information, and make it easy to identify areas in which to set goals. Based on anecdotal information, there is a correlation between those interested in participating and reviewing their results and successfully graduating the program and maintaining goals. Of those who did not successfully graduate from the program, initial interest in the assessment was minimal. Interested participants take time to read through results and enjoy discussing their goals. Some participants are concerned that if an area goes from green to red that they answered incorrectly. In that situation, great discussion follows about why that might have happened including that they are more realistic, or providing more honest answers, or other factors. It allows an opportunity for insight and reflection on the work the individual has accomplished and areas in which further goals should be set.
The information gathered during these assessments has assisted with not only with goal setting, but also helps ServiceWorks participants to see strengths and areas in which they would like to improve. The benefit in having individuals take the assessment is that they understand the results are based on their input, which creates an opportunity for them to see for themselves where they are at with regards to taking responsibility for their actions. Reviewing the twelve assessed areas provides a way for individuals to see how these areas are connected in their lives. Often, individuals are able to identify how low scores in specific areas correlate to their current situation. Discussions after taking the post assessment are particularly satisfying as many participants are able to identify with the areas in which there was improvement and are able to articulate how the work they have accomplished in ServiceWorks and Ryan Community has contributed to the improvement. Conversely, they are able to articulate future goals for the areas in which improvement is needed.
Based on the success of doing the pre and post Conover Personality Responsibility assessment for current participants, RVG is considering launching another Conover assessment for those who remain engaged and involved with Riverview Gardens via aftercare services. The proposed plan is that the individual in aftercare would take the assessment at one and two year intervals and those results would be compared to the previous results. Goals can be modified or added based on areas identified for improvement or enhancement. Implementing this process would provide additional guidance and focus for long-term planning. Additionally, Riverview Gardens is piloting the use of another type of assessment, the Personal Skills Map, to be used with the veterans enrolled in ServiceWorks. The goal for implementing this assessment is to offer insight and guidance on career development for those who are transitioning into civilian life from the military.
The Conover assessment tools have been positive additions to the ServiceWorks program. They ensure engagement by participants with regards to goal setting and identifying areas in which they would like to improve. The pre assessment provides a relevant starting point and the post assessment provides an impactful way to see the progress made and instills motivation for new goals for continued progress.
Written by Kristen Reynolds. As Manager of ServiceWorks Recruitment and Aftercare, Kristen is responsible for establishing and implementing an improved system for ServiceWorks. She works with community employers for job placements, works with the Outreach Coordinator to recruit job trainees for positions, manages relationships between aftercare participants and employers, and maintains metrics for the program. Kristen received her Bachelors of Social Work from UW-Eau Claire and her Masters of Social Work from the University of Connecticut. Kristen has wide range of social work experience that includes working with families, government programs, and healthcare. Throughout her career, Kristen’s focus and passion has been helping those who are underserved in the community.