Kendall Worth is a poverty activist and a frequent contributor to the Nova Scotia Advocate.
KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Earlier articles in the Nova Scotia Advocate by me and others have reported on Community Services transformation plans to assess and group people on social assistance by their ability to work.
The results of these assessments will result into grouping you into the three category these assessments find that you fit in. Either you will never work, you are ready to go back to work right now, or you are between the two.
All we can hope for is for these assessments to be accurate instead of just something made up by some bureaucrats.
There are three unanswered questions:
- Are these real vocational assessment they are proposing?
- Are these assessments going to be set up to even take into consideration disabilities and mental health issues clients may have that keep them from being able to work?
- Are these assessments done by qualified professionals?
I am writing this article as a first voice person who experiences poverty and mental health issues. I myself have had many assessments done to me. The assessments I have done on me in life relate both to vocational issues and mental health.
I could even say that have enough knowledge and experience regarding what an assessment should be that if the department of Community Services really wanted to hire a first voice person to design this assessment, I could create this assessment with my own two hands.
From my personal experiences, the opportunity to take an assessment can be a positive opportunity of self exploration. Self exploration is important when it comes to exploring things such as what type of work you want to do in life for a living.
However, based on every assessment I have ever taken, this is not always the case, and it sounds like this is not going to be the case with the assessments that the directors of Community Services are proposing.
All this brings back memories from when I was a kid. I remember how starting in 5th grade a psychologist used to come visit me at my school each year until somewhere in my high school years.
All this brings back memories from when I was a kid. I remember how starting in 5th grade a psychologist used to come visit me at my school each year until somewhere in my high school years. He would come and assess me for my learning disability. Also, as a kid and in my early teens I have had some visits with a child psychologist at the hospital that would also assess me for mental health issues.
Also in my early twenties after leaving home I had, through a different psychologist, an adult version of these assessments done on me. This is where I developed an understanding of why my schooling went the way it did. As talked about in past articles I I had been diagnosed with OCD and a learning disability.
Also throughout my whole life, I have had career-related assessments done on me as well.
One benefit I have gained from taking these assessments is that it really helped me to better understand myself and get to know who I am. They also helped me understand my disability and mental health issues I deal with in life better.
The reason I share these personal memories of taking related assessments in the past is to see what a good assessment by Community Services should look like.
When you look at the proper way to create an assessment of any type, the major factor that needs to be taken into consideration is it allows you to understand and choose the ways of life improvements that need to be considered. The purpose of any assessment is for a person to have the opportunity to get to know themselves. The question I raise here is whether the department of Community Services is even considering this factor when they create this assessment.
It is a mystery, because we do not know what they are doing in creating these assessments.
In meetings with the directors of Community Services regarding the ESIA transformation I personally have told them that from my personal experience of having different type assessments done in the past my concern is that our regular caseworkers do not have the qualifications to perform these type of assessments on their clients.
The directors of ESIA are reassuring me that these are not intended to be assessments of one’s mental health and learning disabilities. From my personal experiences learning disabilities and mental health issues are an important part of assessing to see how far away a client is from the work force.
This is why these assessments need to created in a format where they look at clients to figure out where self improvements are needed – as well as vocational improvement.
Overall, the department of Community Services is likely planning their proposed assessment of people on social assistance as a way to get as many as people as possible back into the workforce. This is a concern among the persons with disabilities and mental health communities.
Instead, the department of Community Services needs to focus on job analysis. This means they have got to develop a better understanding of our current economy and job prospects. The reality is that if things do not improve in the economy then people on social assistance will not be able to return to work.
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