What impact have you had?
The results of our 2008 consumer satisfaction survey yielded very positive results. Of the participants responding to the survey questions (25% of surveys administered in both English and Spanish), 33% agreed their experience at The Relational Center was very positive, while 58% strongly agreed. The majority of respondents were minorities (58%). The responses to the surveys included questions pertaining to how timely participants were contacted in response to their requests for service, how culturally sensitive their counselors were, the quality of listening their counselors demonstrated, how aware their counselors were of their needs, how much counselors encouraged them to take an active role in their care, and how well counselors addressed their main concerns. Additionally, the survey addressed issues related to how open counselors were to receiving feedback, how caring and transparent counselors appeared, and whether problems improved significantly within the time they had been working with their counselors. Across all of these domains, the average scores indicated a response midway between agreement and strong agreement. This provides a basis for concluding that the services at The Relational Center are very likely to successfully impact our participants in the way we have intended.
We conducted a similar survey among our trainees, requesting feedback about how effective the training has been in fostering higher levels of cultural competence, clinical skill and increased capacity to think in more complex ways about culture, class and context. We also asked trainees to comment on the quality of their experiences with trainers and supervisors. Again, across the board, the responses indicated a high probability that trainees are receiving the quality of training that we have intended to offer at The Relational Center.
In addition to individual counseling, The Relational Center offers a Community Action Group model for developing strategies that address the systemic problems leading to human suffering. By providing opportunities for our participants to collaborate with others with shared concerns, we are changing the conditions we believe are sustaining agony and suffering in underserved groups--disaffection, alienation, isolation, disempowerment, oppression. Creating opportunities for individuals to participate in community action is our approach to developing a culture of belonging, social responsibility, political activism and mutual care.
The result of this model is a continuum of relatedness, a communal context in which a very diverse range of participants with a variety of challenges and disabilities can connect, get support, work together, develop projects, exercise their voices, make a difference in their worlds. As outlined above, our consumer satisfaction and trainee self-assessment results were very positive. While they do not guarantee that we are always hitting our targets, they do show a trend that we are heading in the right direction. Meanwhile, we will continue to encourage honest feedback, criticism and suggestions from our care services participants and our clinical trainees and organizational apprentices about how we can revise and refine the systems and processes on which we rely to carry out our mission.
What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.
The Relational Center is headed in the right direction. We are about 75% self-sustaining through program generated revenues and rely for about 25% of our budget on development funds. We do NOT accept government funding or health insurance reimbursements because we believe depending on these funding streams ultimately disempowers are participants and leaves us vulnerable to catastrophic economic changes (leading to contracts being pulled or policies reshaping the eligibility criteria for receiving further funding). What we need to be successful over the next 3 years is the capacity to preserve this funding philosophy--a culture of self-sustaining development. So far, we have seen that his is possible.
What would prevent your project from being a success?
What would prevent this project from success is the failure of our organization to sustain itself. Barriers to fund development and board development stand as threats to the successful implementation of our programs and services. Nevertheless, these are the very areas of vulnerability we are most focused on addressing over the next 3 years.