Early Assist Referral - FAQ

What is the Early Assist program?

At NIC we know that the earlier students get connected with appropriate supports, the better chance they have to sustain and improve their academic success and overall well-being.

The Early Assist program is NIC’s all-campus system that allows faculty, staff, and students to refer a student they think could benefit from accessing support services at NIC. It is also a mechanism for members of the College community to identify students who are exhibiting behaviours that are concerning to them. Students are also able to self-refer by submitting a support request.

Early Assist is a "one-stop shop" for all types of supports – personal or academic. 

Does Early Assist affect a student's academic record, or decisions related to funding or academic progress?

No, Early Assist referrals do not appear on students' academic or financial records. The Early Assist program keeps a confidential file to track our interactions with students referred to us so we can best coordinate supports. These files are not associated with any other files at NIC.

How does Early Assist affect student privacy?

Access to information collected through Early Assist is restricted and based on ‘need to know.’ The Early Assist team are the only people who have access to the information collected through Early Assist.

Respecting the student’s right to privacy is important to the Early Assist team. Any personal information communicated through NIC’s Early Assist program is collected under the authority of the Freedom of information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA). This information is kept confidential and stored separately from a student's academic records and is used by the Early Assist team for the purpose of identifying and reaching out to students who may be struggling personally or academically and to offer them supports and services that may be helpful to them. This information is shared only under specific circumstances; when there is a concern about safety of the student, a risk to community, or if required by law.

What if a student doesn't want to be part of Early Assist?

Early Assist is an optional support for students. A student can choose whether they would like to accept or decline the support being offered.

For Faculty and Staff

When do Faculty and Staff use Early Assist?

Faculty and staff are encouraged to reach out and offer support when they are concerned about a student's academic performance and/or well-being. This might include times when the quality of a student's academic work suddenly decreases, or, when a student stops attending classes regularly and/or, is showing signs of being in distress. Early Assist can be used to connect students with appropriate resources. Early Assist does not replace the conversations, support and referrals you already offer students - it is supplemental. An Early Assist referral may be useful when faculty/staff:

  • are not sure which services are available and/or are the most appropriate
  • have limited resources (e.g. time or expertise) to provide support
  • would like to identify students that have exhibited behaviours that are concerning to them

How does Early Assist work?

  • ​​​​​Faculty/staff observe behaviour(s) that give them cause for concern. Faculty/staff reach out to the student to find out more about what might be going on. From here, faculty/staff may choose to connect the student directly to support services or complete an online Early Assist referral that will identify the student of concern to the Early Assist team.
  • Faculty/staff are encouraged to tell the student that they are making a referral to the Early Assist program, so that the student is not surprised when a member of the Early Assist team reaches out to them. If, for any reason, this isn’t possible, please let us know within the referral that you have been unable to inform the student that you have made a referral. 
  • The Early Assist team receives and reviews the referral, and typically responds within 2 business days.
  • The Early Assist team will communicate with faculty/staff who made the referral, acknowledge receipt, and inform them of the next steps. 
  • Faculty/staff will be offered the opportunity to speak with the Early Assist team to discuss their concern further. The Early Assist team may contact the faculty/staff for more information, if required.
  • If action is needed, the Early Assist team will reach out to the student and work with them to identify and connect them with appropriate supports.

Respecting the students' right to privacy, referrers will receive an email confirming that the referral has been received and that outreach has started. No other details will be released without the consent of the student concerned.

How can I tell students about Early Assist?

Students at NIC will be informed and reminded about Early Assist through Orientation, social media and announcements on the NIC portal throughout the year. Faculty members are also encouraged to tell students about Early Assist at the beginning of a course or program and reinforce the supportive intentions behind the program. It would also be advantageous to include language relating to the Early Assist program in Course Outlines such as the suggestion below:

College students encounter setbacks from time to time that can impact academic performance and personal wellbeing or wellness. If you run into difficulties and need assistance, I encourage you to contact me by email or phone during my office hours, before or after class, or by dropping into my office (add your location). I will do my best to support your success during the term. This includes identifying concerns I may have about your academic progress or well-being through the Early Assist program. With Early Assist, we can connect you with support and resources to help you get back on track to success. Only specialized NIC staff can access any concerns I may identify, and a referral to Early Assist does not affect your academic record. If you have any questions, you can contact Early Assist directly by emailing earlyassist@nic.bc.ca.

Can Early Assist come and speak to my class?

Yes! Please contact the Early Assist team at earlyassist@nic.bc.ca to arrange a class visit. A member of the team will reach out to you to chat about your specific needs and identify a date and time that works for you.

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Article ID: 9954
Tue 6/4/24 2:53 PM
Thu 7/18/24 2:36 PM

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Identify a student who may be facing academic or other challenges and offer them timely and appropriate support and services.