Work Support Strategies: Streamlining Access, Strengthening Families provides a select group of states – including North Carolina – with the opportunity to design, test, and implement more effective, streamlined, and integrated approaches to delivering key supports for low-income working families, including health coverage, nutrition benefits, and child care subsidies. In 2012, North Carolina was one of six states chosen by the Ford Foundation to receive a three-year grant to support these efforts.
Through the WSS initiative, North Carolina aims to capture the attention and imagination of all stakeholders including the federal government, the state executive and legislative branches, counties, case workers, citizens, community partners, and peer states, in order to build a visionary, forward-thinking service delivery system for the more than 2.1 million individuals who receive a work support benefit each year.
Key Tenets of a New Service Delivery Model
- Families will tell their story once, and receive the services they need.
- There will be no wrong door to accessing benefits. Clients will have a choice in when, where and how they access benefits.
- Community partners will provide new avenues for accessing services.
- The state and counties will work together to make operational improvements, maximize the use of technology, and make the service delivery system as efficient as possible.
- Customer service, efficiency, and data will drive the development of service delivery models and the development of staffing roles.
- Counties will retain flexibility in how they implement, but outcomes, performance and a positive customer experience will provide the ultimate measure of success.
- Accessing benefits will not be a hindrance to working families. Service delivery will be designed in a way that supports working families and their ability to maintain employment.
Key Project Documents
- DHHS Policy Directive - This document outlines the DHHS Policy Directive around Economic Benefits Policy Governance Board.
- Economic Benefits Policy Governance Board - This document outlines the responsibilities of the Economic Benefits Policy Governance Board.
- Communication Toolkit-This toolkit is designed to help counties start the conversation about Work Support Strategies on the local level. It contains basic information about the initiative and specific messages for key audiences. Counties are encouraged to utilize this tool when communicating with staff, boards, commissioners, and customers about Work Support Strategies.
- Practice Model – A document developed by counties and for counties that illustrates the WSS vision for service delivery in North Carolina. It sets common expectations, goals, and indicators of success for our customer experience, data-driven decision making, and utilization of community partners.
- Action Plan – North Carolina’s initial implementation plan for WSS efforts through March 2015.
- WSS Overview – A presentation that highlights main aspects of the Action Plan.
- Planning Year Findings – This presentation provides highlights of planning year activities, data analysis, and considerations for bringing WSS to your county.
- Organizational Chart – An illustration of the different stakeholders responsible for implementing the Action Plan.
- Planning Year Briefs – Outline activities that DHHS has undertaken during the planning year (March 2011-February 2012).
- Data Presentation – Provides an overview of data collection and analysis supporting the WSS initiative.
- State Data Efforts – A summary developed by Urban Institute that describes data collection and analysis conducted by other states taking part in the WSS initiative.
- Client Survey Results – The WSS team conducted a survey of more than 200 clients to identify customer service opportunities to improve the application and recertification process, and summarized the results.
Policy affects county operations and processes for both clients and staff, which makes it a major focus of WSS. A Policy Review Subcommittee has been convened with membership from across the state, including county directors, program managers, and line staff. This Implementation Team will provide input and recommendations on policy development, develop a policy review system that will enable two-way communication between counties and the state, and assist with special projects. This team will act as local subject matter experts and will review and provide feedback to state partners as it relates to policy development for FNS, Medicaid, Child Care, Work First, and Special Assistance. For more information on the Policy Review Team, click here.
During Year One, the Work Support Strategies Leadership Team identified data-driven decision making as a top priority. The group realized we must begin having intentional conversations about data. What can it tell/show leadership? How can counties compare their performance with others around the state? How can we ensure staff has the data for strategic and day-to-day decision-making and to launch experiments? The goal of the Data Team is to clean up existing data systems, make sure the data systems are easily accessible and user-friendly, and develop new reports to provide staff with the tools identify outcomes and measures as well as training to interpret and use those reports. For more information on the Data Team, click here.
Redefining the service delivery system in North Carolina will require effective communication between the state, county staff at all levels, stakeholders, and clients. To ensure that WSS information is shared across all channels, the WSS Leadership Team created a workgroup to develop a Communication Plan and Communication Toolkit (currently underway), as well as a website and a video (completed). For more information on the Communication Team, click here.
Setting common expectations across programs throughout the state is crucial to changing the organizational culture in local DSS offices. The WSS Committee’s Practice Model Implementation Team will identify the common priorities for service delivery in economic services programs that support the goals of WSS. Membership will be finalized by mid-August, and will be meeting regularly through October. The project team intends to present the practice model at the North Carolina Social Services Association (NCSSA) Institute in October. For more information on the Practice Model Team, click here.
- NC Institute of Medicine – A center of planning activities related to Health Care Reform.
- Aligned Certification Periods Pilot – DHHS is testing a process to align certification periods across Food and Nutrition Services and Family and Children’s Medicaid.
- SNAP “No-Interview” Grant – North Carolina was one of three states selected in 2011 to participate in a national study to test the effects of eliminating the face to face interview in SNAP. Fourteen counties in the state have been selected to participate in this study, which will take place from December 2012 through June 2013.
- NC FAST – The major technology initiative that will support many of the improved processes and practices envisioned by the WSS initiative.
- NCACDSS – The North Carolina Association of County Directors of Social Services is an integral partner to achieving the goals of Work Support Strategies.
- NCSSA – The North Carolina Social Services Association is an essential and supportive partner in our efforts to implement our vision for an improved service delivery system.