Listen4Good Survey Results Underscore Success and Highlights Challenges to Tackle in 2022
At Unity Care Group, we are always evaluating our services and performance and looking for ways to continuously improve. To that end, we recently conducted a comprehensive survey to solicit feedback, assess the impact and effectiveness of our services and programs, and learn ways in which we can better meet the needs of the youth we serve.
Working with Fund for Shared Insight to implement our Listen4Good initiative, we surveyed 55% of program participants across a 6-week time period. Participants were nearly 54% male and 43% female (about 4% identified as non-binary or chose not to specify gender), and 75% of were between the ages of 18-25 years. This post summarizes our key findings which shed light on the effectiveness of our services and programs, and identify key challenges to address in the coming year.
Soft Skills Helped Clients During a Tough Year
Survey results suggest that COVID-19 continued to have a significant impact on foster youth, and the soft skills they developed by participating in our program were important and helpful. Respondents reported that during the pandemic, their ability to socialize and spend time with friends decreased, and many lost opportunities to participate in activities and hobbies. Some lost their jobs or had difficulty finding work, while others missed school.
Of the survey participants, 89% reported Unity Care staff treated them with respect most or all of the time, despite staff shortages related to COVID. Many respondents noted growth in several soft skills, including learning to manage reactions and stress, recognizing positive and negative relationships, and learning to manage money more efficiently.
We Deliver on Our Promises
By and large, clients felt that Unity Care does a good job in supporting them along the five pillars of success: Unconditional Care, Housing, Employment, Wellbeing and Education. In particular, respondents said Unity Care excels at helping them to prepare for employment, helping them access health services, helping them prepare for school, and getting them connected to mental health services.
Specifically, Nearly 54% said we helped prepare them for getting a job and 46% said we helped them prepare for school. About 50% said we helped them gain access to health services and over 46% to mental health services. More than 42% said we helped connect them with the community resources they needed.
Our own analysis of outcomes supports this assessment. Over the past two fiscal years 86% of age-eligible graduates were employed and 78% of Unity Care youth maintained their educational goals.
There’s More Work to Do
Despite our success with delivering on key goals for education, health services and employment, survey results suggest a need for additional life skills and social-emotional learning. While 96% of graduates secured stable housing over the past two fiscal years, only 58% of respondents feel they were “extremely well prepared” for independent living. Respondents identified a need for more development in the areas of money management, communication skills and nutrition.
And despite our overall positive scores, feedback from a few respondents illuminated potential areas of improvement for Unity Care staff. Respondents who were dissatisfied with our services cited a lack of engagement, supplies and logistics, and not feeling at ease with other clients as drawbacks. Still, 89% of our clients said our staff treaded theme with respect, and over 86% said we met their needs fairly to extremely well.
Based on our youth feedback results, the need for financial literacy programs and relationship management webinars is clear. We have already begun to communicate with youth about how to better manage relationships with peers and the society at large, but we intend to implement formal programs in the coming months. Listen4Good revealed key areas of programming that needed to be augmented and revealed priorities from a youth perspective. As a key result of our Listen4Good project we were able to prioritize financial education as a key need. This in turn led to our prioritization of funding opportunities that would support financial education programming and resulted in our partnership with California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation which awarded Unity Care a grant to support our new Youth Financial Empowerment program: SEED (Savings and Economic Empowerment Defense).
At Unity Care, we take feedback from our clients – foster youth – extremely seriously. Our agency exists to provide foster youth with stable, affordable housing and support services to help them heal from the past trauma they’ve experienced and work toward long-term self-sufficiency. While we’ve made tremendous progress toward that goal – thanks to the incredible dedication of our staff and the support of our funders and donors – there’s still a long way to go. With rich feedback from our valued clients on-hand, it’s time to act.
The generosity of our donors is changing lives. If you’d like to join the cause, please consider making a donation to Unity Care today, and help build a strong foundation for our foster youth.