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DEI Resources Overview

The following resources have been created and/or revised to provide guidance and action steps that SOAR providers can implement in SOAR service delivery as well as resources that supervisors are encouraged to use to support them.

Equity in SOAR Program Implementation

SOAR (SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery) providers engage with a variety of people from various backgrounds, cultures and beliefs that may be different than their own. SOAR applicants may be people of color who are experiencing homelessness along with substance use, poor health, limited education, past incarcerations and hospitalizations, low-level job skills, and limited work experience. Ensuring equity in SOAR program implementation requires providers to consider how implicit bias in any of these areas may contribute to disparities in how SOAR services are accessed by and delivered to diverse groups. 

Deciding who is hired and how staff is supported; how a SOAR applicant is identified and accessed through referrals; and how elements of the Medical Summary Report (MSR) are addressed in effort to limit implicit bias in the narratives, are all key things to consider in the effort to reduce the influence of implicit bias, encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion while assisting with SSI/SSDI applications in work environments where SOAR providers can thrive.  

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The following resources have been created and/or revised to provide guidance and action steps that SOAR providers can implement in SOAR service delivery as well as resources that supervisors are encouraged to use to support them. 

  • Hiring and Supervising SOAR Case Workers: This toolkit provides information for SOAR program managers who are hiring and supervising SOAR case workers. In recognition of the unique nature of SOAR positions, this tools offers helpful suggestions and key considerations when hiring and supervising SOAR case workers and includes helpful considerations for posting SOAR case worker positions, the interview process – including DEI focused sample interview questions, and unique ways to evaluate the key competencies of a SOAR case worker.The toolkit also addresses pay equity for SOAR providers and guidance on integrating diversity, equity and inclusion in SOAR work and guidance on improving staff engagement.
  • Guidance for Improving Staff Engagement - Integrating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in SOAR Work: This tool encourages conversations with staff that serve Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC).  This resource can be used to strengthen engagement practices that minimize bias with individuals we serve and improve staff relationships and workplace wellness. It is a resource that may be helpful in an agency’s effort to address inequity, strengthen workplace support and safety for all team members and establish a foundation of safe places within the workplace that can be extended to the people we serve (both physically and emotionally).
  • Pay Equity for Social Workers: The SAMHSA SOAR TA Center believes that pay equity between individuals doing the same work is an essential principle of fairness and that those individuals should be compensated equally without regard to gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, marital status, immigration status, or physical ability. Information can be found in the  Hiring and Supervising SOAR Case Workers Toolkit and as an article included on the SOARWorks website.
  • Identifying SOAR Applicants: This guidance asks you to consider how a potential applicant’s racial, ethnic, and cultural views regarding disabilities, diagnoses, symptoms, and treatment as well as their socioeconomic and homelessness status may factor into a SOAR caseworker’s and/or agency’s decision to assist them with a SOAR-assisted SSI/SSDI application. Included are helpful tips to consider when utilizing the Identifying SOAR Applicants tool.
  • Medical Summary Report (MSR) Interview Guide: This tool provides sample questions and guidance for gathering information necessary to the SSI/SSDI disability determination process.
  • Reducing Implicit Bias in the Medical Summary Report (MSR): Included are helpful tips that help emphasize the experience of the applicant while reducing the stereotypes and biased language that foster discrimination against applicants based on race, gender, sexual orientation, substance use disorders, and past or current involvement in the legal system. The overarching question to ask yourself: Does including this information help provide insight into the applicant’s current functioning?

As we all do our best to address the barriers associated with racism and inequity, we must accept the discomfort that comes with the effort to learn about ourselves, learn about each other, and grow to create an equitable environment for the people that we serve and to create a psychologically safe environment in which staff can work and thrive. Remember, the way we show up to work is the way we do the work.

SOAR Work matters.