Early Assist is a confidential online platform that provides the RRC Polytech community, including faculty, staff and students, an opportunity to identify students who may be struggling personally (non-academic), and offer them appropriate support and services at an early stage.
For over a decade, RRC Polytech (and other post-secondary institutions across the country), have noted a marked increase in the complexity of student struggles while attending college. This has led to increased responsibility on faculty and staff to notice and respond to students who may be showing signs of distress. Responding promptly and effectively to students in need leads to better academic performance, increased student retention, and a more positive overall student experience.
Students’ needs can be complex, and it can be difficult to know what steps to take to support a student who may be struggling. However, by remembering these 4 Rs you can better understand some ways to demonstrate care, concern and refer to supports on campus.
The 4R Framework: A guide to supporting student personal well-being
- Common signs of struggle: changes in behaviour, mood and performance.
- Look for: changes in social behaviour, hygiene, or unexplained absences.
- Showing concern and compassion that you have noticed there may be something wrong.
- Responding quickly with care and compassion to their struggles is key to support.
- Ask open-ended questions and comment on patterns that you have observed without making judgements or conclusions.
- Student well-being is every member of the RRC Polytech community’s responsibility.
- Refer students who may be struggling in order to make sure they are connected with the appropriate resources and supports.
- If you are unsure, REFER!
- Connect with the student to determine if they have received the appropriate supports.
- This shows care for the student’s well-being and can help determine if other interventions may be needed.
Still not sure if you should submit a referral? When in doubt, fill one out.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I submit an Early Assist referral?
RRC Polytech faculty or staff should report their concerns to Early Assist if they:
- Have concerns about a student’s wellbeing or behaviour – especially if it’s a concern that may cause the student longer term problems if not addressed early
- Have tried to provide support that is not working
- Are unsure about what to do, who to call, or how to help
Can I refer a student to a support service, or do I have to go through Early Assist?
You can always refer a student directly to a support service. Please do so!
You can also let the student know you plan to complete an Early Assist referral and someone will reach out to them. Let them know just how concerned you are.
How do I talk to students about Early Assist?
Early Assist is a new program at RRC Polytech. We have information available for students about Early Assist on our website and promote this program transparently. Students can even make Early Assist referrals if they have concerns about a classmate. It is not a program secret to students – it is a transparent and voluntary program here to support students who are struggling.
If there is a specific student you are concerned about, speak to the student directly about Early Assist with the above key info in mind. You may want to show them the referral form, or even have them help you fill it out. If you are not sure how to have this discussion or what to say, please consult with the Early Assist case manager for further guidance.
Keeping it simple is best. Here is the key information to remember:
Early Assist is a new program at RRC Polytech. The program begins at a place of caring, with a goal to help students in the RRC Polytech community who may be struggling.
It’s easy to access – ANY faculty, staff or students can make a referral
Its free – like other student supports on campus, there is no cost to access Early Assist
It’s transparent – students have the right to know what to expect, and can find more information in the Student FAQ
It’s voluntary – while help will be proactively offered, students have full control over the choice of whether or not to participate
It’s confidential – any information collected is kept confidential and is stored separately from the student’s academic records. Information is solely used for the purpose of offering support and services to students.
What if there is an emergency involving a student?
After I submit a referral, what will happen next?
You will receive an automated response confirming your referral was submitted successfully. Within two business days, you will receive an email or phone call from the case manager confirming that your referral was received and providing you with any appropriate information that does not breach the student’s privacy.
What if a student does not respond to being contacted through the Early Assist program?
The Early Assist case manager will make two attempts to contact the student by email or phone. If they receive no response, the matter will be considered closed. An exception to this would be concern for someone’s safety.
It is always the student’s choice whether to respond. There is no penalty for not responding, and students can still access any supports on campus at any time.