Seek Out & Scooch Over - MtS DEMS Prevention CoP Call - January 2020
The Seek Out & Scooch Over Principle
In Family and Natural Supports, the principle of “seek out and scooch over” refers to actively seeking out family and natural supports and creating space for them to contribute to a young person’s well-being, as part of that young person’s life-long network of supportive family, community and peer relationships. This principle involves recognizing family and natural supports as an asset to supporting youth rather than a barrier. Collaboration with other organizations and even with staff at your own organization is key when trying to "cast a wide net" for family and natural supports.
The Making the Shift Prevention Community of Practice (CoP) took part in a dialogue about seeking out and scooching over on January 23, 2020.
Things to consider when working to seek out & scooch over:
- Collaboration is key. Applying the principle of seeking out & scooching over requires organizations to take a family and natural supports approach as a whole - from shelter diversion at a youth's first point of contact with a shelter, to bringing on different workers who may be working with a young person's family or natural supports but not working with the young person themselves. Sometime's it's difficult for an organization to shift towards a Family and Natural Supports approach when the work can be so crisis-driven, but even shifting in small ways like changing intake forms include prompts for workers to connect with referring agencies can be helpful.
- Tip: Approach collaboration with other staff by asking the question "How can we help you help this young person?"
- Tip: Implementing weekly meetings between frontline staff, navigators, and Family and Natural Supports staff to go through every client's files can help ensure everyone is updated and that everyone understands the targets that they're working towards.
- Connecting with organizations and agencies who are not usually involved in a young person's case management can help cast a wide net for natural supports. Involving unusual suspects in supporting youth can help build overall community support for Family and Natural Supports programs and for implementing a Family and Natural Supports approach across a community. Youth can develop unexpected and impactful relationships through this type of connecting.
- Examples of organizations you can connect with: religious groups (churches, etc), cultural organizations (which can be key for helping newcomer/refugee youth specifically to build more social connections), local business, volunteer opportunities.
- A success story: At the MtS FNS demonstration site in Lethbridge, they met with Volunteer Lethbridge and built relationships with equestrians, a local doggie daycare, and other business owners to see if they would be willing to have youth from the FNS program volunteer. The business owner of the doggie daycare wound up offering one young person a job.
- Support family and natural supports as well as youth. Helping identified family and natural supports to make changes within their homes, supporting them with their mental health, etc, can help them build better relationships with youth.
- Example: An FNS staff was working with a young person who's mother was on the by-name list in their community, so were able to work with the mother to attain housing faster.
- Tip: If possible, having monthly meetings that bring a couple of families connected to youth who are struggling with connecting to referrals can be helpful, and can demonstrate how a community as a whole can help.
- Cast a wide net creatively. Asking creative questions and building a trusting relationship with youth so they feel comfortable talking about family and natural supports is key to family finding.
- Tip: Sometimes youth don't want to sit down and go through the Family Finding structure. If possible, try connecting with one immediate family member or natural support who can help take the lead on connecting with other family members and natural supports as well. Give them a rundown on Family Finding, provide them with all of the necessary materials, and offer support.
- Tip: Ask creative questions to youth rather than asking them to identify any potential family or natural supports. For example, ask "Who do you call when something exciting happens?"; "Who do you call if you need to change a lightbulb?”
- Tip: Ask questions in informal settings - playing basketball, driving in a car, etc. The environment where you ask these questions can create a more relaxed setting for youth.
- Tip: To help build relationships with youth, meeting them where they’re at (for example, even meeting them at MacDonald’s), send small texts to them (like “Have a great week!”), in additional to working through their case management. Let young people know you're engaging with them not just to fulfill your own agenda.