Family Support is More Than Case Management: It’s About Trust

August 18, 2021

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Despite one resident’s skepticism, a USI Baltimore’s Family Support Specialist, Zanika Hutchings, was able to create the relationship and trust needed to guide that resident to stable and thriving.

Ms. Davis, a USI Baltimore resident, living in the Perkins neighborhood, was struggling with unemployment and apprehension to moving. Her resilience during difficult times kept her afloat; however, it also built a wall of skepticism of the support offered by USI and the more extensive system surrounding USI. It wasn’t until Zanika, a USI Baltimore Family Support Specialist, reached out to Ms. Davis that the skepticism soon turned to trust.

Building Trust Through Listening

Zanika began to develop a better relationship with Ms. Davis as she consistently reached genuinely. Her first supportive step was to help Ms. Davis find employment. Initially, Zanika enrolled Ms. Davis into the Goodwill workforce development program. However, this program did not suit Ms. Davis’ needs, and thus she was reluctant to attend.

So Zanika reflected with Ms. Davis on her needs and equally important goals—for her future and career plan. After learning about Ms. Davis, a little more, Zanika took a different approach and enrolled Ms. Davis in the industry-specific employment training offered by Johns Hopkins Hospital. This opportunity spoke to Ms. Davis, who completed the training and gained a stackable certification in environmental services. As well, she is employed full-time with Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Moving Forward Despite Change

Now that Ms. Davis was employed, it was time to address her housing needs. To prepare her transition from public housing, Zanika assisted in locating her to an affordable home in a good area by transitioning Ms. Davis’ support to the relocation team. However, nervous about the sudden and significant change a move may have on her life, Ms. Davis understandably felt her skepticism return and was hesitant to work with the relocation team.

Zanika quickly noticed Ms. Davis’ hesitancy and stepped back in to walk her through the moving process. Zanika and, this time a reassured Ms. Davis, went together to look at possible homes and opportunities.

“This was like an eye-opener for Ms. Davis, and suddenly she was excited about moving somewhere better.” – Zanika Hutchings, USI Baltimore Family Support Specialist.

The journey to stable and thriving

After only 30 days, Ms. Davis found the home of her choice and is now living in a mixed-income area. During an updated, one-on-one assessment, Ms. Davis noted that she is now happier, her stress level has decreased, and she loves her new home.

In May 2021, Zanika attended Ms. Davis’ housewarming party to celebrate her success and new home. Ms. Davis has deepened her sense of resiliency, has stable housing and income, and is thriving!

It is the work of Family Support Specialists like Zanika that take USI residents, like Ms. Davis, to stable and thriving.

“Have hope. If you apply yourself fully, anything is possible.” – Zanika Hutchings, USI Baltimore Family Support Specialist

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