2Gen Relationship Building: Why the “Intake Form” Still Matters

Sarah Haight | April 28, 2022 | Ascend Network

In 2007, the year I graduated from social work school, I worked closely with women who had elected to participate in cognitive behavioral therapy – individually and in groups – as an alternative to incarceration and as an accelerated pathway to reunification with their children. As part of my field placement, I was given a large black binder with “FORMS” spelled on the front in big green letters. It contained all the documents we asked our clients to complete – both on their own and with us case managers – over the course of their treatment, including a large docket of paper for their ‘intake,’ or process of first engaging the client in their needs.

These intake forms were important for me and my fellow clinicians so we had a streamlined process that increased bandwidth, reduced stress, and sped up processing time. These documents were designed for social workers to better understand our clients, but they were only effective if they first met these women where they were and enabled them to effectively communicate their goals and needs. So the success of this process didn’t just hinge upon my ability to digest provided information, it required forms be simple and culturally-competent to build trust and solicit sharing of sensitive, personal information. Do you know how many forms were in my binder? Thirty-seven. Thirty-seven! For one program. That amount of paperwork overwhelms staff, diminishing bandwidth to effectively support families, and can be overwhelming to families, who already face bureaucratic challenges when accessing supports and resources.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Garrett County Community Action Committee

It’s been a long time since I met directly with clients, but over the course of the last decade, I’ve been heartened by many of the Ascend Network’s efforts to streamline and simplify intake processes and human services for families, especially parents with low incomes, who are juggling a range of stressors and challenges. Two-generation (2Gen) approaches face the challenge of aligning forms for whole families, and many are following the lead of the Garrett County Community Action Committee (GCCAC), which has long recognized that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and in “human services, first impressions often begin with the client intake process.” Intake forms become more two-generational when they, for example, capture relevant or essential information on the whole family needed to access a range of services and resources; and/or engage the parent or caregiver in their own goals and their goals for their child.

Recognizing that centering family voice consistently is key to refining intake processes and forms, a group of Network Partners have recently shared their forms and tools in hopes of inspiring and influencing others in the field. You can find those forms and some background on the organizations below:

  • Catholic Charities of Hartford, CT: Catholic Charities is a non-profit agency serving people of all faiths in Hartford, Litchfield, and New Haven Counties since 1920. The organization has a focus on children as our future, families as the backbone of our society, and the elderly as our link to our roots.
  • Washington State Department of Social and Health Services: This department is Washington State’s agency serving families with low incomes, with a focus on benefits access and resources for food, cash, and medical services, with a specific focus on centering parent leaders and voices in informing their services.
  • San Diego Workforce Partnership: This organization creates partnerships and collaborations to equip adults with workforce development training and skill-building, with the goal of moving them toward living-wage jobs. The organization has adopted a 2Gen approach in serving parents with low incomes in the region.
  • Garrett County Community Action Committee: GCCAC is a leading community action agency in Western Maryland with a focus on adult and child services supporting economic mobility, early childhood and workforce education, and community building. GCCAC has been a leading 2Gen organization since 2014.

We invite you to share your intake forms with us, and we can upload them to this blog post or our 2Gen Toolbox for others to review and adapt or utilize. Please reach out to us at Ascend.network@aspeninstitute.org.

Related Posts

In episode 14 of the City of Kalamazoo's Shared Prosperity podcast, Ascend's Sarah Haight sits down with Kevin Ford, the city's Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo Coordinator. Throughout their discussion, they speak about the two-generation (2Gen) approach to improving family and community well-being.
Ascend NetworkMay 2, 2022
Although Black women continue to make significant contributions to their families and society, including being the top breadwinners and the most educated demographic earning a postsecondary education, the road to economic recovery and well-being is still further from their reach than their counterparts.
Ascend NetworkMarch 24, 2022
A commitment to rigorous learning and evaluation is fundamental to the implementation of a two-generation (2Gen) approach so that we’re measuring how well programs and policies serve the whole family. This is reflected in research being the first principle of a 2Gen approach, and it’s embedded in the day-to-day work of Ascend’s 450+ nationwide Network Partners. These visionary practitioners and systems …

From Proof Points to Building Evidence: Creating A Two-Generation (2Gen) Research Agenda Read More »

Ascend NetworkMarch 10, 2022
Think of how much our families evolve in 10 years. A seven-year-old will move from second-grade spelling tests to walking down the hallways of their dream university. At the same time, their parents may transition from school pick-up lines to their own school successes and career advancement. We don’t traverse our lives alone. We build …

A Family Story, One Decade in the Making Read More »

Ascend NetworkFebruary 21, 2022
The inaugural Aspen Leadership Impact Forum brought Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows and philanthropic leaders who share a commitment to courageous leadership for children and families together with the inaugural cohort of SOARFellows, leaders working to expand opportunities for women and girls.
BlogDecember 1, 2021
Anne Mosle and Marjorie Sims co-authored an op-ed in Penn Live/ Patriot News discussing the accomplishments of Ascend Network partners in Pennsylvania and present opportunities ahead to advance family well-being by centering families through two-generation (2Gen) approaches. We are at a moment in the nation – and in Pennsylvania – when a paradigm shift is in …

We’re entering a new era that will provide stronger support for struggling families in Pennsylvania Read More »

Ascend NetworkOctober 19, 2021
The following text is adapted from “The State of the Field: Two-Generation Approaches to Family Well-Being.” The full report is linked here. Two-generation approaches (2Gen) meaningfully engage and listen to families as equal partners in setting and achieving family goals. Family expertise and advice drive the design of two-generation policies, programs, and services. The voices and perspectives …

8 Principles for Engaging and Centering Parent Voices Read More »

BlogAugust 3, 2021
A new report released today by Ascend at the Aspen Institute (Ascend) takes stock of the two-generation (2Gen) field. It analyzes what has been accomplished, the lessons learned, and the opportunities ahead with unprecedented federal expenditures in social policy. The report comes at a time when Americans are more fully recognizing that a system that tolerates social, racial, gender, and economic inequities is on unstable ground — and we are reckoning anew with the history of racism, sexism, and economic exploitation that built them into the foundation of our nation.
BlogJune 7, 2021
About Hispanic Unity of Florida  Hispanic Unity of Florida (HUF) in Hollywood, FL, was founded in 1982 by community leaders to guide newcomers to the U.S. on their journey to their American dream and to ease the acculturation process. Today, HUF is Broward County’s largest agency dedicated to the immigrant population. With 12 programs and …

Hispanic Unity of Florida: Building Strong Client Relationships Begins with a Strong, Whole-Family Intake Process Read More »

BlogApril 6, 2021
This blog is part of Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s 2Gen Level Up series. Ascend challenged organizations that work with and/or on behalf of children and families to apply one of six resources listed below and level up their two-generational efforts. Of the many organizations from across the country that put these resources to use, Ascend …

PelotonU: Principles for Engaging and Centering Parent Voice Read More »

BlogApril 6, 2021
This blog is part of Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s 2Gen Level Up series. Ascend challenged organizations that work with and/or on behalf of children and families to apply one of six resources listed below and level up their two-generational efforts. Of the many organizations from across the country that put these resources to use, Ascend …

Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona – State 2Gen Model Read More »

BlogApril 5, 2021
This blog is part of Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s 2Gen Level Up series. Ascend challenged organizations that work with and/or on behalf of children and families to apply one of six resources listed below and level up their two-generational efforts. Of the many organizations from across the country that put these resources to use, Ascend …

WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities: Making Tomorrow Better Together: Process Outcomes and Measures for 2Gen Organizational Changes – WVU CED IMPACT WV Read More »

BlogApril 2, 2021
As the Biden Administration and other policy leaders seek our counsel about the best way to build back better for children post-pandemic, let’s back what we know works: 2Gen approaches that support children TOGETHER with their parents and caregivers.
BlogMarch 4, 2021
Ascend is pleased to announce the six winning organizations of the 2Gen Level Up Competition & Prize. In October, as part of 2Gen Level Up Week, we announced the 2Gen Level Up Competition & Prize that challenged organizations to use the resources released during 2Gen Level Up Week to advance two-generation work. About the 2Gen Level Up …

The 2Gen Level Up Prize Winners Read More »

BlogJanuary 25, 2021
This fall, Ascend at the Aspen Institute launched the Parents’ Voices 2020 Project, the next step in our longstanding effort to cut through the national noise and ask parents directly for their hopes, dreams, challenges, and solutions. With a strategic and intentional focus on racial and gender equity, and an expanded definition of family structures, …

Parents’ Voices 2020: Focus Group Findings Read More »

BlogDecember 1, 2020