Techniques for Providing Supportive Services
There are specific techniques for providing supportive services
that help participants with personal and family problems such as
bad credit or debt, lack of child care or transportation, workforce
issues, substance abuse, mental or general health issues, or experiences
with violence. These techniques include: intensive case management,
referral to other community resources, support groups, and follow-up
and transitional services.
How you implement these techniques depends on how you generally
deliver services. You can offer supportive services in one of three
- Direct delivery. Your PHA may choose to provide supportive services
directly to participants on site. Some PHAs, though, do not have
the staff, expertise, or space to provide services on site.
- Delivery through service provider partners. You can provide
supportive services through partnerships with service providers
(see the Partnership and Collaboration
page for further information). This option may be the most appropriate
for many PHAs. The partnership gives the PHA a voice in how services
are delivered, but allows them to focus on the housing component
of the Welfare to Work voucher program. If appropriate, consider
inviting a partner agency to deliver services on site at the PHA.
- Delivery through community service providers. You can refer
participants to community service providers with whom you have
no partnership. These providers range from hotline services to
clinics. PHAs should thoroughly acquaint themselves with community
programs before referring clients to them, and if possible, develop
a relationship with them, if not a formal partnership.
Intensive Case Management
Case management is particularly important for programs like the
Welfare to Work voucher program that require coordination between
multiple agencies and programs. Ideally, case management begins
as soon as the client enters the program (if not earlier) and will
continue even after the client starts working. Case management works
to reduce the frequency of job loss and, if necessary, facilitate
Participants are often more committed to a program and respond
more positively to suggestions or requirements when they believe
that case managers are personally committed to them. You should
carefully consider how many participants will be assigned to case
managers. While you can reach a greater number of people if case
managers have 150 cases, you will provide better quality service,
and perhaps even achieve a higher long-term success rate, if case
managers handle as few as 25 to 50 clients.
Issues to consider when establishing intensive case management
include the following:
- Determine whether case managers will be used to resolve specific
issues, to provide ongoing counseling, or both.
- Monitor the receipt of services from partners and other organizations
as well as those provided on site.
- Meet with participants on a regular basis, either at the participant's
home, at the case manager's office, or during on-site structured
- Encourage case managers to use whatever resources they can,
to think creatively, and to take reasonable risks.
- Teach participants how to advocate for themselves.
- Develop one-on-one relationships and show your dedication and
Referral to Other Community Resources
Specialized services, such as services for the treatment of domestic
violence and mental health, can be scarce in a community. There
are a number of strategies for working around this issue.
- Hire staff counselors. Staff counselors can identify problems
and deal with numerous cases; however they may not have the specialized
training required to deal with unique or severe cases.
- Negotiate for on-site professionals. You can negotiate to have
specialized professionals located on-site. These professionals
will have the training, but may also have limited availability.
Arrangements with a partner may help to make these services more
accessible to clients.
- Establish relationships. When access to treatment programs is
limited, it helps to know the people who run the programs. Be
need for referrals in health care
populations suffer from illness more often than people in
higher income groups. Many low-income individuals have insufficient
access to preventive and necessary health care for several
have less money to pay for services;
do not trust institutions, including hospitals; or
are unable to identify potentially serious health threats.
to health care helps people move from welfare to work not
only because they are healthier, but also because they can
address health problems before they escalate into debilitating
illnesses. PHA referrals to health care services can help
participants obtain this necessary care and stay healthy during
their transition from welfare to work.
Support groups can be coordinated through on-site resources or
through partners with access to trained support group facilitators.
Other community service providers may also offer support groups.
These groups not only offer support for participants, but they can
also alleviate pressures on PHA staff, case managers, and other
partners. If provided on site, they also offer an alternative to
community resources that may be difficult to access.
While more serious issues may require specialized and individualized
care, successful groups have been started for people dealing with
the following issues:
- Employment planning
- Adjusting to the workforce
- Transitional issues
- Special needs children
- Domestic violence
Groups are generally most effective when they meet regularly, such
as once a week. They can vary in structure depending on the nature
of the group. All groups, though, will likely benefit from exercises
that encourage sharing or focus on learning a skill. For example,
participants in an employment planning group might keep an activity
diary in which they record the work that they do to achieve their
Follow-up and Transitional Services
Participants who begin work for the first time often need help
retaining their jobs and advancing in the labor market. There are
several techniques for increasing job retention, and welfare departments
are currently working to design initiatives in this area. Finding
ways to encourage working clients to continue to access services
and work supports is a challenge. Welfare agencies often lose contact
with clients after they begin working. Housing authorities, however,
are in an ideal position to address this service gap. Working clients
can be tracked through the Welfare to Work voucher program. In addition,
public housing developments offer access to a large number of current
and former TANF clients. Often space is available to co-locate staff
from the welfare or labor departments. Housing authorities also
could seek funding from the local TANF agency to provide post-employment