How can coaching help?

A professional, intentional partnership and guide

Mobility Mentoring® is a practice that partners with individuals and families to walk them through the achievement of their goals. One way this happens is through coaching. Coaching is an intentional partnership between a staff member (coach) and program participant. A participant receives support in building the capacity necessary for sustained behavior change and in navigating the systems in which they receive housing, education, workforce development, and food and benefits assistance. Throughout this support, coaches do not prescribe solutions, rather they give participants help and autonomy in seeing beyond their current situation in life.

Coaching places the participant at the center of their work. Solving participant goals becomes the shared work of both the participant and coach. The hope is to have the coaching process be repeated enough so that it becomes internalized and enables participants to tackle future goals independently.

When living in poverty, it is difficult for an individual to work their way out of it without help. Episcopal Community Services uses the coaching model to serve as that support for individuals to pull themselves out of poverty and up the economic ladder.

The coaching process uses the Bridge to Prosperity® as the organizing framework to:

  • assess where participants are on each of the five pillars
  • prioritize the skills most important for the participant's situations
  • develop individualized, specific goals that will move the participant toward economic self-sufficiency
  • identify supports and challenges and develop strategies for utilizing supports and overcoming challenges
  • identify action steps to reach goals
  • work on goals using the Goal Action Plan (GAP)
  • celebrate success and reflect on what could be improved

Coaching vs. case management

The difference between two models used to attain goals

Case management is the model commonly adopted when helping participants address problems in their lives and attain goals. Mobility Mentoring® and case management share many commonalities, but they differ regarding the duration, focus, and nature of work with participants. Case management is typically short and focuses on crisis intervention and attainment of goals that are program-mandated. Mobility Mentoring® involves long-term engagement and focuses on individually established, multifaceted goals, and coaching that supports lifelong behavior change and skill building.

To more clearly see the distinction between these two models, consider the case of Jane.

Jane is a 25-year-old mother with an 11-year-old daughter in the 6th grade. Jane puts her daughter’s needs first and advocates for her to secure the educational path she wants and deserves. Jane dropped out of high school in the 10th grade, but she would now like to pursue earning her GED.

Creating a roadmap

Take a look at how Jane’s situation would be handled through standard case management:

Jane meets with her case manager, and on her service plan, her case manager adds “getting a GED” to it for her. Jane is then given a list of GED prep and test sites. To get there, Jane’s case manager provides her with a bus schedule and a public transportation pass. Jane successfully completes the class and passes the test, allowing her to obtain her GED. Money incentives are only given to Jane once she has completed the program.

Here is how Jane’s situation would be handled through coaching:

Jane meets with her coach, and she adds “earning a GED” to her goal worksheet. She begins to research and then chooses a GED prep site, a small monetary incentive is given to her for her progress. To get to the site, Jane secures transportation on her own and is given another monetary incentive for doing so. For attending 95 percent of classes, another small monetary incentive is given, and a larger one is given for completing the course and signing up to take the GED test. Not only has Jane obtained her GED, but she also increased her skills in time-management, goal setting, and self-reliance.

When people are working towards goals they have identified on their own, they are more likely to be successful.