By Telawna Kirbie
Did you know Waco now has a Case Management Working Group? Case managers are the backbone of the social service system. The value they bring to our community is far greater than the financial compensation they receive while the work they do is challenging in many ways.
Case managers are the “boots on the ground,” the ones on the streets and in the homes of those in need. They show up in homes, at school, in jail or detention, at the hospital, or in treatment facilities. This also means they are often in unsafe and unfamiliar environments, at their own risk, to build connections with the people they serve.
Often, case managers work for smaller nonprofits where budgets are tight and ability to offer high-quality training may be limited. The Case Management Working Group is focused on two things: 1) To increase communication and collaboration between case managers and the agencies they work for, and 2) To support, empower, and elevate the role of the case manager.
One way we are working to increase collaboration and the ability to access resources is utilizing a web-based referral platform called FindHelp.org, formerly known as Aunt Bertha. This is a website anyone can use to locate local resources. You simply type in the zip code for which you need help in and then you can search the tabs for the resources you need.
There are categories such as food, housing, transportation, health, education, work, legal, etc. The search yields local, statewide, and national resources for a particular need. The resources listed have an “index card” of their information such as what services they offer, who is eligible, and how to get in contact with them for assistance.
Any agency can be listed, and you can submit the information yourself or click on a tab at the bottom of the page that says, “Suggest a Program.” FindHelp.org staff will then reach out to the agency to get the accurate information for their services.
All community members have access to search for themselves or refer someone else to services. Individuals can create their own accounts, which will enable them to do other things such as tracking referrals and saving favorites.
Any community-based organization has access to a higher level of tools available in the platform for free. This includes the ability to set up a direct referral that allows the interested party to click a link and a referral email goes directly to the agency and then the agency contacts the individual to offer assistance. This is free but does require an agency to have a designated staff person/s to respond to the referrals within a timely manner.
The use of FindHelp.org is just one way to increase the communication, collaboration, and access to community resources for those in need and just one way of supporting the work case managers do every day in our community.
Would you consider using the tool for yourself, as well as helping to promote the use of FindHelp.org throughout the community? Please go check out FindHelp.org, and if you are a case manager in the community or an agency that employs case managers, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining the Case Management Working Group.
Telawna Kirbie is director of behavioral health initiatives with Prosper Waco.