From the Field: Measuring Success
By: Melanie LeGeros, Country Roads Counselor, Washington County Youth Service Bureau
In grant-funded programs, we strive to meet benchmarks that define what success is for our youth, families, and programs.
- Is the youth we are serving tier one, two or three?
- Have resiliency factors increased while in counseling?
- Has family reunification been achieved?
Defining what we’re doing and what we’re working towards is essential, but it also leaves out so much. As youth care workers, part of self-care is reminding ourselves that success is as individual as each youth we see, and is almost always messier and more complicated than a “yes” or “no” answer we click into a database. Many of our clients do hit the marks we look for. They engage in services, and we see safety, well-being, self-sufficiency and connections increase over time. For others, the trajectory may be less clear but the wins, though less traditional, are still there.
For one client of mine, transitioning to a living situation where she could continue to care for her chickens was the number one priority.
Another youth went into custody, a “negative” outcome that allowed her to escape an abusive home environment and regain peace and normalcy in her life. And for so many of my clients, I see success in their continuing to make the choice to access services amidst the chaos and uncertainty of their day to day lives. Not knowing what boxes I’ll end up checking on their exit assessments right now, I remind myself that they are still coming in for family counseling despite how hard it is, calling and asking for shelter when the need is there, or calling to ask to reconnect for counseling after falling out of touch for a time.
Each of those moments represents a small success and a further opportunity for growth. So I offer this reminder to keep in sight all the intangible gains our clients make alongside the more concrete triumphs.