We carried out our study in Assets and Needs Assessment on Mama Tingo Early Head Start program. We utilized evidence-based research and received adequate information from Kim, the assigned social worker. Kim had already established a great relationship with staff members and the program director and was able to assist us. Using the existing family surveys and interview responses, we saw the need for more intense staff training so that they could also feel supported. Kim had communicated with the program manager about creating staff surveys to get a better understanding of how they feel about their role, training, and support from the program. She ultimately supported the idea and even said she could assist us in this project. She knows that there is always room for improvement when it comes to serving families and was aware that we would support the agency with our assignment to work towards Mama Tingos goals.
Although it was important to collaborate with the program manager, we learned that she was swamped and she couldn't provide us with feedback, support, or adequate data as expected. We should have kept the staff members informed since the beginning as well as engaging them in decision making because they are just as important as the leadership team and families that they serve. This could have changed the low number of staff members who completed the surveys because they would have had a better understanding that we were focusing on their needs and building supportive groups for them.
Some successes include the following: Kim living in the community for about two years, having a Latina background, and being bilingual helped the agency buy into the assignment. Another success was having the Executive director being part of this assessment and having her input as to what staffing and supervision should look like. This will help in changing the program since she supports it. The staff members started conversations on the types of training they want and made suggestions to the executive director on team building trips to not only enhance their learning but also to connect more. Hopefully, they will be able to get the adequate and well-deserved supervision they were promised.
Despite the success, we faced some challenges. The staff members were few; we had difficulties in getting a staff member who would fully express her thoughts. The ones we got were afraid of getting in trouble with the program manager who knew they were being interviewed. Sometimes being too close means you're scared to hurt feelings especially when it relates to your job. Another challenge was that the workers had busy schedules the agency. The program manager never supported Kim and the group like she had promised due to grant deadlines and program workload. The executive director canceled on Kim twice before she committed but was on time constrained.
As the relationship between family members, the relationship between a staff member and a supervisor can offer qualities of mutual care and respect. Reflective supervision is an opportunity for leadership to use the strategies of reflection to foster growth, reinforce strengths, and encourage resilience. Kim's relationship with all the staff members has been positive and has genuinely connected with each of them. Kim also is taking more seriously rather than just an intern with the leadership team because of the committed and invasive project we have been working on all semester. They can have real open conversations about giving staff members the encouragement and the guidance they need. This ultimately keeps leadership in touch with the real issues facing the program.
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