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Chapter 7. Solving Problems Through Peri... > Sample Professional Periodic Report

Sample Professional Periodic Report

Figure 7.2 is the rough draft of Leah Feldstein's periodic report to the Elliston Foundation on the activities of EDUCARE's drug rehabilitation program for the third quarter of 2001. Leah will send the report with a letter of transmittal (for more specific information on letters of transmittal, see Chapter 6) signed by John Fiske, even though Leah is the author of the report. She has also identified the report as a draft and has dated it. This step will allow Fiske time to make changes before the report is due at Elliston, and more practically, it will help ensure that the report will not somehow be sent out in its present form, that is, without editorial review.

Figure 7.2. Leah Feldstein's periodic report

This first material is the orienting information. Because John Fiske, the Executive Director, is the signer of the report, Leah shows his office as the report's origin. Other information designates the period of reporting, the recipient, and the project name and contract number. All of the identifying information shown is necessary, because organizations like Elliston fund numerous projects and need to be able to draw up information from their files quickly and accurately. The summary of project activities lays out all the significant activities of the period. As is true of all conclusive summaries, this one will allow readers to make decisions about how the project should proceed, whether new directions need to be taken, whether existing directions need to be bolstered, whether everything should remain basically as it is established. In solving the rhetorical problem of writing any report, but perhaps especially of a periodic report, a conclusive summary anticipates questions readers will have and allows them to decide whether the project is meeting the goals as set out in a proposal or through other less formal means.

The first paragraph reviews the highlights of the period, establishing (or reestablishing/some of the basics of their work: how many clients they see, how often, where, and for how long. She also is sure to reiterate that the primary areas of concern in their individual counseling approach remain the same. Thus, she continues to orient the readers to a context that might be difficult to remember otherwise. The remaining paragraphs of this section lay out the new approach to group counseling. Keeping her audience in mind, and the problem they may see with client-counselor ratios, Leah is quick to point out that the new arrangement requires about twice the time of each counselor for group counseling. In paragraph three, Leah details the configuration of the new groups, which on the surface might seem unnecessary. Since this is a new arrangement, she wants to show that the configuration was based on good theory; familiarity and friendship are effective means of getting people to open up, to say what they have to say without embarrassment or intimidation. Leah talks in paragraphs four and five about how meeting more often and in smaller groups has encouraged more open responses from clients, making their experiences more client-directed than counselor-directed: a distinct and sound goal of the program, in both EDUCARE's and Elliston's eyes.

Her concluding paragraph for this section does what all good conclusions do. It looks ahead, inviting the readers to think of possibilities that lie beyond the scope of the report. The success rate is important for Leah to discuss. It is something the project must look out for and something the readers of her report at Elliston will want to know about. She talks about the “slips” in clients' performance outside the program, specifying what happened to them and their decisions to return to the program. She even tries to inject a little humor (although understated and dry), recounting one client's substitution of marijuana for crack and the results: he reported that “he was feeling better,” but he “was also invited to return to the program.” Leah sums up the current client enrollment and the success rate in percentages for at least ninety days. She also mentions, however, and this is important, that she sees the new initiatives as promising improvements in the success rate. She wants to put the best face forward on the work of the period and show that there is promise for the future.

In the problems section, Leah identifies the problem that she is willing to admit is a problem. She does not mention client counselor ratios or recruitment, issues that Elliston may want to consider problems but that she does not. She is specific about dates and figures, but she is quick to predict how the problem may be solved with the next group counseling procedures. She suggests that the predicted success rate of 38 percent is one that Elliston would be pleased with. In the second paragraph, she begins to discuss other measures she thinks will help improve the success rate. The other measure responds to another problem, counselor stagnation, certainly related to the success rate. but perhaps more indirectly. The staff's decision to meet more often and to devote the additional time to discussing developments in the field is both a good idea for the obvious benefits that can accrue, but also as a demonstration of the staff's commitment to the program. This change in priorities Leah hopes will positively impress her readers and perhaps effectively reduce criticism of client-counselor ratios and unaggressive recruitment. The schedule and budget information speaks for itself, and the plans for the future are itemized, specific, and clearly connected to what has already been discussed. There can be no questions about what is supposed to happen, including EDUCARE's intentions to seek additional funding, clearly something Leah and EDUCARE want Elliston to look upon favorably.



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