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Supportive Services Resources - Welfare to Work Vouchers

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 -   Techniques for Providing Supportive Services
 -   Intensive Case Management
 -   Referral to Other Community Resources
 -   Support Groups
 -   Follow-up and Transitional Services

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 ways.

  • 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 re-employment.

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 activities.

  • 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 persistence.

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 persistent!

Participant need for referrals in health care

Low-income 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 reasons, including:

  • They have less money to pay for services;

  • They lack transportation;

  • They do not trust institutions, including hospitals; or

  • They are unable to identify potentially serious health threats.

Access 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

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
  • Parenting
  • Special needs children
  • Depression
  • 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 self-sufficiency goals.

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 services.

Content current as of 10 October 2001   Follow this link to go  Back to top   
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