There have been some recent questions about our Internet@Home project. This was originally developed to support Te Kura (The Correspondence School) students who required a computer and an internet connection to participate in some Te Kura online courses. For qualifying students, Te Kura provided a refurbished laptop computer and we offered to provide training for parents and access to a subsidised internet connection using our automatic payment scheme – we would be using the same systems as for Computers in Homes families, but the internet subsidy would be paid by Te Kura instead of the Ministry of Education.
The concept seemed good, but in reality it simply didn’t work. We are not sure exactly why it didn’t work but a contributing factor could well have been the complexity of the engagement process.
Our fall-back position has been to welcome Te Kura families as part of local Computers in Homes programmes. We suggest they choose a laptop and unlike other families who don’t receive their computers until they have completed training, we have allowed Te Kura families to ‘take home’ their laptops from the very start of the programme. In some cases we have organised special compressed training sessions, as families can live some hours away from training centres. In other cases, families have used their laptop and internet connection to join in scheduled training by Skype.
We try not to say “no” to any family with a Te Kura – enrolled student and be flexible enough to bridge the gap that is preventing the student from participating in the online courses – whether this be parent training, computer hardware or internet connectivity, or any combination of these.
We have also encountered a situation with a family with a number of children (including a Te Kura student) and while there is a computer in the home, it is not readily available for use by the Te Kura student. We have agreed to accept this family onto the Computers in Homes programme so that they can procure another device for use by the Te Kura student as well as get access to a subsidised internet connection.
So, please welcome Te Kura families whenever they approach you and find out how we can help. Please list their ‘school’ as Te Kura and keep us informed abou tthe sort of support they need.
Coordinators will recall Sylvia’s presentation on Toggl at our Nelson hui. I have been meaning to post the outcome from the discussion following her presentation about a sensible set of ‘project’ categories for you to use to monitor your lives and find out where all the time goes. It would also be really useful feedback for us when we try and scale the coordinator and delivery partner roles and develop new support roles. So if anyone has joined the Toggl world, please feel free to share your reports with us. I am not so interested in week-by-week reports as I know your workloads fluctuate wildly, but what would be good is a three or six month report.
The categories agreed were:
- Finance Related
- General Admin
- Media and Community Liaison
- Meetings (incl NCCG)
- Net Sign Ups
- Reporting (incl surveys)
- School Liaison (incl Graduations)
- Stepping UP
- Technical Admin (Ordering, fixing etc)
- Training Set Up
While we are trying to centralise the management of the 12-month internet transition process, we still need the help of coordinators. Our first couple of months trialing our new processes have not been as successful as we had hoped. In fact, to be honest, we are not doing as well as when coordinators were handling the process on their own! The first few weeks of April have been a shocker with most families reaching the critical 12-month date without completing the necessary documentation to retain their connection.
Kristina and I reviewed our processes today and we think the problem is not as much about the new processes, it is just that they are not being operationalised as we had expected. So to recap, this is how it is supposed to work:
- Step 1 (Last day of the month): CIH google docs are consolidated and sorted by date order
- Step 2 (by 10th day of the month): Letters and financial statements are sent by physical post to all families reaching the 12-month termination point during the subsequent month, with an email copy to the relevant coordinator (Update note: from April 2016, this is now being sent as an attached file rather than embedded in the email, making it easier for coordinators to print out and re-send or hand deliver when families ‘lose or misplace’ the copy sent by post):
- Each letter has a partially-completed 2degrees Direct Debit form and a partially completed 2degrees AP form, as well as a stamped addressed return envelope;
- Families are asked to return the Direct Debit form to Kristina in the stamped addressed envelope and take the AP form to their bank if they wish to continue with weekly or fortnightly payments;
- A date for returning the DD form is clearly stated; this is 10 days before the termination date;
- Kristina marks up the Transition Google Doc as DD forms are received and records the date they are scanned and sent to 2degrees.
- New Step 3 (by 20th day of the month): Coordinators make contact with each family to make sure they have received the letter and DD form and understand what they need to do by when. (Thanks Sue D for the suggestion)
- Step 4 (10 days before the termination date): If DD forms are not returned by the due date, Kristina makes an effort to contact the family and records the outcome in the Transition Google Doc. If she is unable to make contact she requests the assistance of the CIH coordinator.
- Step 5 (no later than 5 days before the termination date): Coordinators are expected to use their local networks to contact the family and assist them return the DD form to Kristina no later than the termination date.
- Step 6 (at the termination date): families who have not completed and returned a DD form will be disconnected.
Some families have complained about never receiving the termination letter, possibly because they have changed their postal address. It is the responsibility of coordinators to mark up address and other contact details in the master google doc progressively throughout the year, so that the contact information is accurate at the time the letters are sent.
All coordinators also have access to the transition document; while we are trying to centralise the transition process, we would appreciate the support of coordinators to take a note of their families reaching the 12-month mark (a good time to check is around the 10th day of every month or when you receive copies of the letters to families) and provide whatever assistance they can to Kristina to help with this process. It is so disappointing to have to terminate the internet connection, especially for families who have never missed a payment, just because we can’t contact them or they can’t contact us.
Computers in Homes coordinators have delegated authority to appoint subcontractors to assist with the delivery of certain aspects of the programme. Specifically this includes:
- Computers in Homes trainers to deliver 20 hours of training for groups of participating families
- Stepping UP trainers to deliver 2-hour training modules (noting that our preference is to progressively migrate these costs to libraries)
- Technicians to provide technical support for families, as required, for 12 months post graduation
- Technicians to carry out Warrant of Fitness checks on computers at 12 months (applies only to families from the 2014-15 funding year and earlier)
- Rejuvenation Surveys to complete the 12-month “follow up” survey
Templates for all these subcontracts are available in the secure area of the Computers in Homes website. These MUST be completed and signed before any work is undertaken. A copy must also be sent to the 2020 Trust Contracts Director for any subcontractors engaged by a 2020 Trust contractor.
Most contractors are following these procedures but we felt a reminder was timely because a situation has recently arisen where a subcontractor was engaged without a written contract and there was confusion about responsibilities when a problem arose.
We also suggest that at least one written reference be sought whenever a new subcontractor is engaged and that a copy be attached to the contract. This is especially important for people who will be required to go onto school grounds for training families and for technicians who may be required to go into CiH family homes.
The government-approved mileage allowance for contractors using their own vehicles for Computers in Homes work has been reduced from 77 cents to 74 cents. There is no GST component in claims for these amounts, as payments are being made to an end user. The contract templates for technicians and rejuvenation WOFs/surveys have been updated accordingly (v2, dated 7 April 2016). All contractors claiming mileage allowances should be advised of this change from 1 April 2016.