Project ASSIST used a case management approach, which was a new service delivery model for the sponsor agency, SSTAR. Each client enrolled in ASSIST was assigned to a case manager who worked with him/her as much or as little as needed over a 6-month period. Project leadership noted the value of the case managers to the clients:
That connection with a caring individual has made a big difference to the participants who often feel isolated while unemployed. They help the participants secure health insurance, food stamps, fuel assistance, along with whatever needs exist. Many of the people we are enrolling have never had to access services in the past. They often don't know where to begin or what is available to them.
Expanding services to include job support was also an important addition for the program, not simply for the clients, but also for the staff. Prior to CRRI, the staff were not aware of the depth of emotional issues that individuals and families face during times of job loss. The entire process of working with various job and career resources in the community allowed ASSIST and SSTAR staff to gain a new appreciation for the kinds of adverse life events that may contribute to behavioral health challenges.
During the Great Recession, the local One-Stop agencies experienced an overload of requests and were not able to meet the demands for support. Clients revealed that they perceived employment-related resources as being of primary importance, and sought these services prior to seeking other behavioral health interventions. The ASSIST project configured new job-seeking support resources within the mental health treatment model so there was not a need to choose either one or the other. The newly developed jobs club program at Fall River included some work with the chronically underemployed or unemployed who had long-standing substance use and mental health issues. However, the Fall River project also conducted a strong outreach effort to the target population of those individuals and families affected by recent job loss as outlined in the initial grant proposal.
Finally, the project focused on expanding services to veterans. As noted, staff completed the Seeking Safety training and attended a conference on how to work with military families. One of the case managers began conducting screening in the veterans' office twice per month when veterans came in for their checks, and some were eligible to enroll in Project ASSIST. Other outreach to service members was made at the veterans' drop-in center and with the National Guard. Staff noted that midway through the grant, they began to use the revised GPRA instrument with the additional questions on military service and trauma and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. During this time the project had 30 participants (16 percent) identify their status as veterans. Of the 137 individuals who were asked the trauma-related questions, 61 percent reported a history of trauma, with "nightmares" as the most common symptom identified.