HMSV8110 - Action Research Methods in Human Services

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Health Medical

Action Research

Capella University


In your initial post to this discussion, identify and discuss topics in the research process about which you have the least knowledge or confidence. Suggest a plan for increasing your confidence or skills through your work with action research in this course.

Action Research, 4th Edition

ISBN: 9781483320731

By: Ernest T. Stringer

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Riverbend City ® Activity Action Research Topic • • • • Introduction Action Consortium Offices Conclusion Credits Introduction In this series of simulations, you will assume the role of a high-level staffer at Riverbend Community Action Consortium (RCAC), a human services organization in a mid-sized Midwestern city. You will put the principles of action research into use as you examine one of RCAC's programs and identify ways to gauge and improve effectiveness. RCAC provides a variety of services for its community, some of them in cooperation with other agencies. While RCAC's staff work to provide the most effective services in the most efficient way possible, focusing on the immediate needs of a given day can make it easy to lose track of the larger picture. Someone removed from the day-to-day, looking at longer-term data, can offer valuable insights into the effectiveness of programs and how they can be improved. Three RCAC programs are available for review: the Ruby Lake Teen Homelessness Task Force, the Northside School Completion Program, and the Juvenile Justice System/Second Chance Program, operated in cooperation with an organization called Second Chance RBC. You should go talk to some RCAC staff about these programs to get an initial sense of what they do and how they work. Riverbend City Action Consortium Offices Talk to RCAC staff to hear a quick overview of their respective programs. Karen Goldberg Second Chance Program Hi, thanks for asking about the Second Chance program! So, this program is one that RCAC works on in cooperation with another agency…in this case, it's Second Chance RBC. I serve as the main point of contact on the RCAC side, and my counterpart over there is Brad Heath. It's a pretty tightly cooperative setup; I wind up working more closely with Brad than I do some people here within RCAC. But don't get me started about what it's like trying to synch up the budgeting cycles of two different nonprofits! Anyway. What do we do in the Second Chance program? We exist to help students- mostly high school and junior high, some middle school - who are in danger of falling out of the traditional school system, either through expulsion or getting tied up in the juvenile justice system. Or both. We work with judges and the Riverbend City School District to route these kids into alternative schools, and then try to provide resources and support to help them graduate. Second Chance RBC performed this function on their own for several years, and kind of ran into problems with their own success when they couldn't scale up to meet the demand. So we started partnering with them a few years ago, since we have resources and staff that they just don't. The way things are distributed now, we at RCAC theoretically focus more on students who're involved in the juvenile justice system while Second Chance RBC does more to cover kids at risk of expulsion. But in practice, that distinction doesn't always mean a lot, since there's a lot of overlap in those populations. There's a lot more I could say, and a lot of figures I could show you about the program. But the director asked me to stick with a high-level overview for now, so let's leave it at that. But we'll talk again! Josh Wilson Northside School Completion Program Hey there! So I guess I'm supposed to tell you about the Northside school completion program. Well, I don't want to blow your mind, but the program is all about improving school completion rates on the north side of Riverbend City. Crazy, I know. There are four schools that we work with in the program, with some variance in their demographics and the socioeconomic status of their student bodies. We partner with school administration, faculty, and guidance counselors to provide resources to students to keep them on track. You know the Second Chance program? In some ways, we're upstream of that. If we're doing our jobs, there'll be fewer students who need help from the Second Chance program. Of course, we're under no illusions that we're going to get that number to zero. We have a *lot* of challenges with this program. Since we work in partnership with the school district, we're exposed to a lot of chaos on that end. A couple of the north side schools have a lot of turnover, for instance, both in faculty and guidance staff. Which means that we find ourselves starting over from zero over and over. And it's very hard to maintain institutional knowledge for the program in those schools. The problem exists to some extend in all of the school, but it's especially bad at Petersen and Vagle. We keep a lot of statistics, but I don't know that we do a great job of doing anything useful with the information. Completion falls off a cliff at Ellison after 10th grade. That's good to know! Seems like it's a thing we should address! But what do we do about it? Same stuff we've been doing. Geri Patel Teen Homelessness Task Force Hello! So, I'm going to tell you a little bit about the homelessness program. Ruby Lake is a particularly disadvantaged neighborhood here in Riverbend City, and has a very elevated homeless population. The task force is a grant-funded project within RCAC to try to mitigate homelessness among the population. We do a lot of face to face work with the population, which is rewarding but very time consuming; so we spend a lot of our high-level time thinking about how many staff hours we're spending per program participant. Which sounds so cold! But managing the program requires thinking about participants in the aggregate like that. If Jane Doe is a 19-year-old from an abusive home who has developed an opioid addiction, that's an individual who we're going to try to help with counseling, outpatient substance abuse treatment, and temporary shelter. But to figure out how to help all of the Jane Does, we need to think about the population in the abstract. How many homeless people in Ruby Lake have children? How can we help them? Do people with substance abuse problems soak up a disproportionate share of resources? Since we're always in triage mode, these are questions we have to be asking. Another circumstance we have to deal with is the funding situation. This program was initiated with a 3-year grant, with the idea that we'd roll into operating out of RCAC's unrestricted funds. The amount of funding RCAC has been able to contribute from the unrestricted budget has actually gone *down* as we've moved through the grant period. I have assurances from higher up that we'll be taken care of in year 4, but I lose some sleep wondering about that… Conclusion Now that Karen, Josh, and Geri have talked to you about the programs they administer for RCAC, you should take a moment and reflect on what you've heard. Reflection Questions If you're going to embark on an action research project on behalf of the organization, which of these three programs—the Second Chance program, the School Completion program, or the Homelessness program—would you like to focus on? Your response: This question has not been answered yet. What is it that appeals to you about this program Your response: This question has not been answered yet. What avenues for research present themselves on that program? Your response: This question has not been answered yet.
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Action Research Methods in Human Services.

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Action Research Methods in Human Services.
Action research methods in human services are the systematic inquiry that researchers
undertake as they draw their findings from other researchers to establish actions and determine
the outcomes and consequences.
If you are going to embark on an action research project on behalf of the organization,
which of these three programs—the Second Chance program, the School Completion
program, or the Homelessness program—would you like ...

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