Faith-Based Organizations are some of the largest providers of services to people in need in the country. The relationship they have with the people in their communities is perhaps one of their greatest assets for carrying out their mission to help their members grow and succeed.
The Adkins Career Program is one of the ways that Faith-Based Organizations have found to extend those relationships, structure them, and give them direction.
Several features of the Adkins Program show how its values fit well with the values of nurturing organizations:
- the use of the small group counseling/learning environment
- the focus on the whole person and the dignity of the individual
- the positive approach to valuing each individual's prior life experience as a source of knowledge
- the attention to attitudes, the values of self-direction, and ways of strengthening the motivation from within
- the effort to help members learn to overcome inner as well as external barriers to meaningful employment
- the emphasis on career choices and goals in the context of life choices and goals
- the emphasis on full participation by all members of the group
There are also a number of especially helpful features in how the program is delivered:
- the use of video vignettes to dramatize career issues
- the step-by-step nature of the curriculum
- the clear learning objectives and ways of measuring outcomes
- the emphasis on changing behavior by doing new things and experiencing oneself in new ways
- the use of modeling tapes, role plays, games and simulation exercises
- the 4 stage structured learning process that combines teaching and counseling activities
- the frequent use of encouragers but also reality-based feedback on performance to establish good habits and self-discipline
The Adkins Program Works Well Because it was Developed Well
The program was developed at Columbia University especially for persons who are unemployed, underemployed and economically disadvantaged . It was based on many interviews with these populations and on sound educational principles, learning methods and research. It is a complete system with many well-developed video, audio and print-based learning activities which are easy to use. It comes with a staff training program which helps staff members learn to use the program and take maximum advantage of the rich learning resources and the group environment.
The staff training program (Life Skills Educator Training Program) has been especially popular with agency teachers, counselors, trainers and administrators. It is practical and engaging.
The Adkins Program has been found by numerous agencies to be a means of maintaining contact with their clients and providing them with emotional support while they are engaging in difficult literacy, training and employment activities. It is also a way of checking on a regular basis whether clients are being well served by the other programs they are engaged in, so that, if need be, appropriate action can be taken to improve the services being given to members in the community.
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"The way the Adkins Program dignifies people and helps them build on their strengths fits in with our own values. It's also so well designed technically that my staff can really deliver professional-type services."
- Director St. Stephens Outreach Center