Cap Benefits Enrollment


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Presentation at Annual CAP Conference in Boston, 2010

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Cap Benefits Enrollment

  1. 1. Benefits Enrollment Coordination: ARRA and Beyond Presented by The National Association for State Community Services Programs With Akm Rahman (Massachusetts) Jessica Simon (Washington) 1
  2. 2. Each year more than $54 billion in worksupports available under existing government- funded programs are unclaimed by eligible Americans who do not apply. Source: The Work Supports Initiative 2
  3. 3. The National Governors’ Association identifies inconvenience and time off from work as primary reasons why eligible households do not apply for work supports. 3
  4. 4. OMB Memorandum M-10-21Change comes from the community level and often throughpartnership; complex problems require flexible, integratedsolutions.The Administration must break down Federal “silos” andinvest in such a way that encourages similar coordination atthe local level. To make the Federal government a moreeffective and nimble partner, agencies also should pursueopportunities to engage State, local, and tribal governments,faith institutions, nonprofit organizations, businesses, andcommunity members at-large as collaborators. Effectivecollaboration rests on developing shared agendas for action,strategies that are smart, success measures that make sense,and implementation focused on results. 4
  5. 5. Center for American ProgressCoordinate and ConsolidateFederal programs often perform similar functions,serve the same people, or have resources thatcould help other programs achieve better results.These programs would benefit from closercoordination and in some cases consolidation. Yetexecutive branch agencies and programs frequentlyexist in their own separate silos, with littlecommunication between them. 5
  6. 6. Efforts Outside of the CSBG Network• Stakeholders Outreach Initiative (SOI) – Connecting small businesses to federal government contracts –• Seedco’s EarnBenefits – Facilitates enrollment services to connect low- wage workers to a range of income-enhancing public and private benefits, such as tax credits, food stamps, health insurance, and bank accounts. 6
  7. 7. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act“…1 percent of the funds made available to each State from this additional amount shall be used for benefits enrollment coordination activities relating to the identification and enrollment ofeligible individuals and families in Federal, State, and local benefit programs…” 7
  8. 8. Amount of Funds• $9,733,039 total for Benefits Enrollment and Coordination Activities.• $37,000 – smallest amount (Alaska)• $891,500 – largest amount (California) 8
  9. 9. Outreach, Education, Marketing• 41 States – Educational Materials (brochures, pamphlets) – Earned Income Tax Credit – Individual Development Accounts – Referrals to partners – Debt Assistance, Budgeting courses – Foreclosure Prevention 9
  10. 10. Technology Enhancements• 25 States – Creation/Enhancement of online eligibility systems – Streamlining Information and Referral Processes – Integrating State-wide data collection systems 10
  11. 11. Coordination of Benefits Providers and Other Stakeholders• 14 States – Coordinating with Federal, State, local, and private organizations – Assessment of barriers to benefits enrollment, information sharing, coordination of benefits enrollment criteria or procedures 11
  12. 12. Percentage of Funds by Category 12
  13. 13. Benefit Enrollment & Coordination of Services – How to Use the Cyberspace to Create PartnershipsMassachusetts Department of Housing & Community DevelopmentDivision of Community ServicesPresented by: Akm Rahman, Senior Information & Program CoordinatorThe 2010 Community Action Partnership Annual Convention, Boston, MassachusettsThursday, September 2, 2010
  14. 14. The Landscape – On the Surface Community Action Agencies Fuel Assistance and Energy Efficiency Providers Regional Career Centers Housing Consumer Education Centers Regional Homelessness Prevention Network Housing Authorities Regional and Local Non-Profit Organizations Akm Rahman, DHCD
  15. 15. The Landscape – Let’s drill down Over 1,000 Community Action Agency Programs. Many Major Common Programs. Fuel Assistance is a Gateway to Home Energy Assistance & Energy Efficiency. Homeownership Counseling and Foreclosure Prevention. Housing Stabilization through the Homelessness Prevention Network. Health Insurance Enrollment. Akm Rahman, DHCD
  16. 16. The Landscape – Let’s Drill-Down More Over 290,000 households or 600,000 unduplicated individuals receive services through CAAs. Fuel and Energy Assistance for 220,000 households. About 8,000 – 10,000 families indicated homelessness as an issue. About 50,000 tenants in subsidized housing. CSBG ARRA and ARRA-WAP added close to 50,000 families. CAAs created over 250 CSBG-ARRA funded jobs. Akm Rahman, DHCD
  17. 17. MA Benefit Enrollment and Coordination of Services – Why? Institutionalize State Plan concepts. Sustain effects of CSBG ARRA Funding. Create New Access Points or Modify Current Access Points. Transform program silos to a Multi-Service Model. Create Synergy (2+2) > 4 Bring down barriers to services. Provide customized assessment and referral. Initiate cross-functional communication. Akm Rahman, DHCD
  18. 18. MA Benefit Enrollment and Coordination – Hub and Spokes? CAAs Other DHCD/ Community CAA Health Center Partners DHCD E.Gov Network Home Energy Housing Efficiency Authorities Network Regional Homelessness HCECs Prev. Network Akm Rahman, DHCD
  19. 19. MA Benefit Enrollment and Coordination of Services – WhyThis Way? In a traditional sense “benefit enrollment” refers to benefits offered by employers. A 165% growth in web-based technology for benefit enrollment – paper > stand alone servers > web-based systems. A web-based system is needed to support data exchange between legacy systems, disparate databases, and the future… Meets today’s security standards. Builds upon MA’s progress in web-based systems. Akm Rahman, DHCD
  22. 22. Washington State CSBG Office• Department of Commerce mission: “Grow and Improve Jobs in Washington State.”• CSBG office is in the Community Services & Housing Division• 30 community action agencies statewide covering 39 counties• CSBG ARRA funds: $11,916,784, of that $119,167 for benefit coordination.
  23. 23. CSBG ARRA Benefit Coordination Projects• Benefit Coordinator at Free Tax Prep Sites - $50,000 (5 grantees x $10,000 each)• Washington Information Network 211 - $40,000• Community Voice Mail National - $2,750• Benefit Coordinator at local food banks - $26,417 (3 grantees x $8,805.66 each)
  24. 24. Free Tax Prep Sites Pilot• 5 agencies, multiple tax sites• January – April (tax season)• CSBG ARRA invested in: • part time salary and benefits for Benefit Coordinator position • computer equipment• Benefit Coordinator helps individuals determine eligibility for benefits available• Final report of outcomes
  25. 25. Closer Look at Free Tax Prep Sites:Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners• Temporary, part time position: January 25-April 24• 254 people received referrals at 5 tax prep sites from January 30-April 15• Followed up with 151, of those 63 received a benefit• The documented cash benefit received for 45 people was $14,433 (36 people receiving energy assistance)• Completed a desk manual for the next person hired in the Benefit Coordinator role
  26. 26. Closer Look at Free Tax Prep Sites:Lower Columbia Community Action Council• Part time Benefit Coordinator attended 4 tax sites weekly• Assisted 284 clients with general benefits information• Websites used for benefits checkup: • • • •• Advertised the Benefit Coordinator available at sites
  27. 27. Tax Prep Sites Pilot Successes and ChallengesSuccesses• “The cost of the project was small compared to the amount of visibility it gave to the working poor of the benefits and resources available to them.”• “The Community awareness of benefits and resources was increased and more clients received benefits because of the project.”• People came in for services long after they received the referral at the tax site.Challenges• Individuals reluctant to share information at tax site due to the lack of private space.
  28. 28. Tax Prep Sites Pilot Suggestions for Future• Have a separate private place at the tax prep site OR set up appointments for a later date at the CAA.• Recruit bilingual benefit coordination staff.• Introduce/integrate Benefit Coordinator into target communities prior to initiation of tax preparation services.• More time spent bringing together resource organizations in order to facilitate more successful referrals.
  29. 29. Washington Information Network 211 (WIN 211)• CSBG ARRA invested in supporting the WIN 211 system in their role as partners in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) outreach campaign and to assist callers with general benefit coordination information.• WIN 211 to join with other statewide EITC campaign partners to assess what worked and what did not and provide recommendation for the next year.• January-May total tax prep/tax assistance calls totaled 12,275.
  30. 30. Community Voice Mail (CVM) National:Broadcast message• Broadcast message to direct CVM clients to call WIN 211 for general benefit information and free tax prep sites• Two messages were sent, March 12 and April 4• Approximately 3,708 messages were left each time• In King County (Seattle area) 111 receiving free tax prep heard of the service through the CVM broadcast message. (approximately 1,086 people in King County using CVM.)
  31. 31. Local Food Banks Pilot• 3 agencies, multiple food banks• CSBG ARRA invested in: • part time salary and benefits for Benefit Coordinator position • computer equipment • advertising (radio/TV/newspaper ads)• Final results due October 30, along with a desk manual for the Benefit Coordinator position.
  32. 32. Closer Look at a Local Food Bank PilotCommunity Action Council of Lewis, Mason and Thurston County• Mason County targeted—high rate of eligible individuals, but a low rate of enrollment in programs• 5 food banks• Food banks have strong concerns of privacy and confidentiality• All meetings with individuals held off site• Introduction of Benefit Coordinator to clients while in line at food bank
  33. 33. Closing• Projects were innovative and new for the agencies that participated• Projects thus far met their goals• Learned what worked and what did not for the future “The Community awareness of benefits and resources was increased and more clients received benefits because of the project.” tax site
  34. 34. Contact Information Jessica Simon, CSBG Specialist Washington State Department of Commerce 360-725-2850