A Day in the Life of a Diversion & Assessment Specialist

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Alyssa, Diversion & Assessment Specialist, talks about her role.

Describe your role. 

Conduct housing assessments on the Housing Services Hotline explaining services for clients, setting up expectations for receiving assistance, discussing diversion options for a safe place to stay, provide referrals to community providers for additional resources. I also practice data management and client tracking, attending pull meetings with other housing agencies and engage full circle with the Coordinated Entry Process  


What led you to become a diversion & assessment specialist? 

I really enjoyed my Crisis Line days back when I was a Housing Support Specialist. It all came naturally to me. I enjoy listening to people, but I also like being part of the first step that gets people connected to services. At Vision Day, when I heard about the new position FOF would be implementing, I was all on board! Since I started the position back in March, I have felt 100% I am without a doubt in the right seat. I love what I do, and I love being part of the change happening across the state. I have also grown so much while in this role and it has been so great learning all the behind-the-scenes work with our agency! 

Describe the population you work with. 

I talk over the phone with those who are behind on rent, on the streets (literally homeless), individuals who are in a shelter, and people who may be experiencing Domestic Violence in their home. I also talk with other agencies or social workers who may be curious about how services work at FOF. I am there to explain the process and answer any questions they may have about Coordinated Entry. 

Do you speak with new people each day, or do you connect with the same people consistently? 

New people each day. Sometimes I need to follow up with an individual whose living situation has changed but for the most part I speak to a different person every day.  

How do you start each day? 

Not without a cup of coffee at my desk…hahaha…I come in and the first thing I do is check messages and document who has called in needing services. This gives me an idea of how I will spend the rest of my day, as it varies based on how many calls I will need to make. I typically start with calling those people back in the morning and then usually by mid to late morning I attend a pull meeting, document those pulls and then continue calling clients for services. By the afternoon I am either wrapping up callbacks or on the hotline live.  

What sort of things do you help prospective clients with? 

Simply explaining who we are as an agency and what type of services we provide.  

Are there specific community partners or resources you work consistently with? 

Waypoint, Willis Dady, HACAP just to name a few. When a client is placed onto Coordinated Entry, there are service regions where clients have the potential to be pulled with another agency. My job is to explain that to the client during the housing assessment and ask if there is an opening in another agency that can potentially pull them faster than Friends of the Family, would they be interested in housing services with that agency instead. I then complete a Release of Information if pulled and relay that information to the provider so that they can get in contact with the client.  

What is the most enjoyable part of your role? 

Pulling clients for services because it puts into perspective all the work that we do and the reality of functional zero starts to set in. It’s very exciting! 

What is the most stressful part of your role? 

When the call volume starts to increase. This also puts into perspective how important our job is because the need for safe housing is so real in the community. 

Does work follow you home?  

Absolutely not, the only exception is if I am on-call for that day. I value work/life balance and practice healthy boundaries to care for my mental health.  


Share the story of your most impactful day at work. 

One time a client called for assistance and had no idea who Friends of the Family was but was told by a friend to call and see if we could help them because they were experiencing domestic violence in their home. I talked with the caller about the assistance we provide and explained our process for services. The caller agreed to complete a housing assessment.  

They were very upset about what their family was experiencing and were hesitant because they were nervous about the change in their life that could happen if pulled. I provided some crisis counseling and explained we are not mandatory reporters and everything they share remains in this conversation. I also let them know that while some of these questions may be personal, most of them are “Yes” or “No” and I would be walking through the whole assessment with them. This provided a sense of relief, allowing them to talk about their experience. 

After the assessment was complete, I explained what to expect for services if pulled into a program. The client stated they would call back if there were any changes to their living situation. This was at the very end of the day on a Friday. The following week at a pull meeting, the client was at the top of the list and was pulled for a housing program. It was amazing to see the reality of change happening in the community and how one phone call led to a positive shift in this family’s life.