Maximizing Learner Support Service Connections
Tanis Harms, Community Learning Network
Maximizing Learner Support Service Connections
Understand how Learner Support Services are defined in the CALP Guidelines:
“Grant recipients provide Learner Support Services to assist individuals to transition to programs and services that will help them to meet their learning goals. Learner Support Services are a range of activities that grant recipients coordinate to support the learning and/or life journey of adult learners. They are opportunities for organizations to build relationships with learners, which may increase their confidence to participate in further learning. These services are particularly important for foundational learners that face social and/or economic barriers.” (CALP Guidelines 2020, p. 21)
*Many examples of learner support services can be found on page 21 of the CALP Guidelines 2020.
Understand Funding and Reporting Requirements for Learner Support Services
Both the CALP Application and Annual Report inquire about the Learner Support Services that each CALP offers/provides in their community. Providing these services to community members is an allowable use of CALP grant funds to cover CALP staff time invested in serving learners in these ways. However, “while learner support services are important, the use of the grant must clearly prioritize required programming.” (CALP Guidelines 2020, p. 21)
Often when adults walk through the door of a CALP organization, they may not know whether or not it is the “right” location to help them meet their needs. The CALP system as a whole believes and practices that “any door is the right door”, meaning that when an adult walks through a CALP’s door, the CALP will do all that they can to either meet the need of the adult or refer the adult directly to where their needs can be met.
In order to provide these knowledgeable referrals, CALP staff need to do some pre-work. It is extremely beneficial for CALP organizations to have an up-to-date list of referral information for their community. This list could provide information such as:
Why? – This describes the focus of the organization and why you are referring the adult to them.
What? – What is the name of the organization and their contact information?
Who? – Who should the adult speak with (a specific name of a person, or a position in the organization)
Where? – Where is the organization located?
I have seen some excellent examples of these lists at CALP locations! Some of the CALPs had great ideas such as laminating the lists, or having magnets made which included a few key organizations (including their CALP information). Others made sure to have their CALP Logo, Name, and contact information in a prominent place on the page as a promotional item to hand out. An additional idea is that a CALP could have paper copies available for highlighting the specific referral information needed for the adult to take.
Who is the face of your CALP? Who answers the phone or greets those who enter your space? These staff are extremely important in starting to build relationships with a learner. In fact, often these first interactions make a significant first impression on whether your space is safe and welcoming. From the first smile to the last goodbye, intentionally build a relationship with whomever is walking through your door….for whatever reason…as who knows where that relationship will go and how long it will last?
Give a takeaway item like a pen, brochure, magnet, or something else that shares your CALP’s contact information and where to find out more about the learning opportunities offered (eg. Website, FaceBook,…).
Often there is a lot going on in CALP organizations and it’s hard to keep track of everyone who comes in for Learner Support Services. It may be of benefit for your CALP to keep a record of who is coming in, and what they are coming in for. For example, here is a basic Excel document called Learner Support Services Record that you can look at as an example for what you could use to keep track of key information such as the adult learner’s name, contact information, and what they came into the CALP for. This record should be kept in an easily accessible location, so that all staff can document the information in one location.
While gathering the adult learner’s information and providing them with help, why not ask if they are willing or wanting the CALP staff to contact them regarding upcoming learning opportunities or to follow up with further help? Perhaps this first contact is just the first step of a longer journey with them…
Assess & Respond!
Regularly Assess who has come to the CALP location in order to identify:
(1) Have there been repeat visits by any of the adults?
a. If so, perhaps make a personal call to check in if there are other needs they would like help with.
b. If so, perhaps make a personal call to inquire whether a learning opportunity the CALP is offering is of interest to them.
(2) Have there been repeat requests for particular areas of help?
a. If so, perhaps a learning opportunity should be planned that is focused on the area of interest (For example, if many adults have come to ask for help in filling out forms and documents, perhaps offer a course on Document Use).
b. If so, perhaps learning opportunities that are already being offered in those areas of content need to be advertised/marketed in a different way to get the word out (For example, if many adults have come asking for computer help and your CALP has been offering a Basic Digital Skills learning opportunity).
Want to Learn More?
For more information on many different aspects of Learner Support Services, check out the Learner Support Services e-Learning on the CALP Portal. Included in the e-Learning are these two resources that were developed by CALP Organizations for CALP Organizations: A Practitioner's Toolkit & Learner Support Services: A How-to Guide
How else have you maximized Learner Support Services contact? Please share below!
Sign in to view 0 comments