17 Jan Get Help Finding Your Way
CITC’s Navigation team makes it easier to connect with programs and services
When you walk through the doors at CITC, the first person you usually see will be clad in a red vest and eager to help. These are our Navigators—staff entirely dedicated to connecting you with services at CITC and its partners.
Navigators are familiar with every CITC program. They’re also “super users” of myCITC, our online portal that allows you to create a profile and access CITC at anytime. With a Navigator’s guidance, accessing CITC services is easier than ever.
We talked to CITC’s two lead Navigation Specialists, Drea Whiteside-Ferrell and Zach Gaisoa, to learn how the Navigation team makes connecting with CITC a welcoming and helpful experience.
As the first point of contact for most people coming to CITC, what is your priority?
Zach Gaisoa: Our role as Navigators is to provide a warm welcome to everyone coming into our doors and make that initial contact with our people to see how we can assist them in a timely manner.
Some people I have interacted with say that asking for help is somehow against their culture, and I can relate to that. By providing that warm customer service and being eager to assist people, we encourage people to use our services, and we help them reach their full potential.
Drea Whiteside-Ferrell: Most of the time, our program participants are in uncomfortable situations when they come in. Our goal is to remove any stigma about asking for help. A lot of times, they come through our doors with no supports at all.
It’s right there in our values and mission: interdependence and resilience. If you are lacking support, how do you maintain resilience? We all need help getting back on track sometimes.
What can someone expect when they begin working with the Navigation team?
Drea: When someone is referred to Integrated Case Management, they work with Zach or me. We offer individual services to participants who are enrolled in more than one program at CITC. We prepare people for the eligibility process, time-wise, and something comes up sooner than they are scheduled for, we get them on walk-in lists or on-call lists.
We walk with people through the application process, if needed. Historically, our application process has been a difficult one for our participants because there are several pieces of documentation required. These documents can sometimes require people to connect with several agencies and corporations. We help develop a road map through that process while they are waiting to be scheduled with eligibility. Once we complete an application with a participant, our Navigators are offering document checklists and checking off the documents that exist in our system already.
How do you continue to work alongside individuals and families as they engage with CITC programs?
Drea: Once a person is referred to Integrated Case Management, Zach and I schedule weekly check-in calls, emails, or text messages to see how the process is coming, to offer moral support, and to remind them to email their documents. We also help with reminder calls for appointments in other departments like Child and Family Services and Alaska’s People, or for things like personal development plans.
If we see a note that an appointment is coming up, we schedule it on our calendar so we can reach out offer that reminder call.
Additionally, we can help participants pace themselves through programs, instead of tackling everything all at once. We can help them measure their rate of success by suggesting when to integrate the next program.
This is especially helpful with our participants that are getting ready to graduate from Recovery Services, have just been released from incarceration, or are reunifying with their child[ren]. Because we are here in the Welcome Center and get that initial engagement, our participants are often so relieved to share their story and unload their burdens that we gain insight into how to best proceed.
Our programs have guidelines and standards that are mandated by the funding sources they come from. We have to make sure our participants understand how to maintain open and active status throughout the programs they enroll in.
How do you work with other CITC staff to connect people to services?
Zach: We are here to help remove as many barriers as we can for both our people and our staff. We work together with our programs and the rest of our staff to serve our people. We also provide that warm customer service and are eager to assist them as we work toward our main goal, which is for CITC participants to use our services to help them reach their full potential.
There’s saying my father would always tell us: “Many hands lighten the burden.” By working together more, we can help our people become self sufficient and reach their endless potential.
Connect with Zach, Drea, or another member of CITC’s Navigation team today! You can walk in at the Welcome Center anytime, or you can make an appointment to get started and find out which CITC programs are the right fit for you and your family. Call (907) 793-3303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.