Outreach and Goal-Setting

MODULE 2.1: Overview of the FSS Program Coordinator Position

Role of the FSS Program Coordinator

As the principal front-line staff responsible for implementation, FSS program coordinators are the backbone of the FSS program. FSS coordinators coach program participants, conduct needs assessments, provide referrals to services and trainings, and help participants stay on track to achieve their goals. FSS coordinators also maintain program records, build partnerships with service providers, report on program outcomes, and perform other tasks as required.

FSS programs use different names to describe the program coordinator, including case manager and coach. In this online training, we will use the terms “FSS program coordinator,” “FSS coordinator,” “program coordinator,” and “coordinator” interchangeably.

Staffing for the FSS program can be structured in many ways. In some organizations, the FSS program coordinator is responsible for all functions associated with the program; in others, responsibilities are divided among staff, where one coordinator handles the design and implementation of the program, while other coordinators are primarily responsible for case management and coaching. Some programs choose to work with outside contractors to administer the program.

Watch this video clip on the scope and importance of the FSS “case manager.”

FSS © 2017 | U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

FSS coordinators execute many functions, including:

  • Recruiting participants
  • Assessing participants
  • Helping participants set goals
  • Formalizing the Individual Training and Services Plan and Contract of Participation
  • Building partnerships with service providers
  • Supporting participants in job search, placement, retention, and advancement
  • Helping participants achieve other goals such as education, training, and preparing for homeownership
  • Making referrals to service providers
  • Monitoring participant progress
  • Maintaining escrow accounts and approving escrow disbursement
  • Determining when a participant can successfully graduate
  • Keeping records of interactions with participants
  • Providing information to enable the PHA to complete the required HUD reporting
  • Reporting on program outcomes

 Sample FSS Coordinator Job Description - Nan McKay and Associates

Caseload Size

While FSS program coordinators assume many important roles, the case management or coaching that they provide to help residents achieve their goals is central to the FSS program design. One question that often arises is how many participants should be in the caseload of each FSS coordinator. There is no hard and fast rule for determining the ideal case load size for FSS coordinators. However, HUD’s annual Notices of Funding Availability (NOFAs) for Public and Indian Housing FSS Programs provide minimum guidelines for the number of FSS participants that programs must serve to qualify for specific levels of coordinator funding from HUD.

The FY 2016 NOFA, for example, says:

Eligibility for funding will be based on the number of FSS program participants in your entire FSS program during the target period, according to a formula that requires 15 families to support one part-time position, 25 families to support one full-time position, and an additional 50 families to support each additional position beyond the first full-time position.”

Because total funding is limited, however, having the caseload to qualify for a certain number of coordinator positions is no guarantee that a PHA will be funded at that level.

Some FSS programs report average coordinator caseloads that are larger than these minimums. Larger caseloads allow for enrollment of more families in FSS, but at some point, caseloads may get so high that they diminish the ability of the FSS coordinator to provide effective support.

  Visit Website to Download the HUD 2016 Family Self-Sufficiency Program NOFA

Recommended Qualifications of FSS Program Coordinators

When hiring FSS coordinators, FSS programs look for a variety of qualifications, including:

  • Empathy, faith in the families who enroll in the FSS program, a commitment to the mission of the FSS program, and the ability to be nonjudgmental in working with FSS participants
  • Prior employment experience related to case management
  • Experience working with low-income families and diverse populations
  • College degree in social work or a related field
  • Knowledge of resources available in the local community to help residents increase their earnings and assets
  • Knowledge of pertinent HUD regulations
  • Prior employment experience related to the public housing or Housing Choice Voucher program

This video emphasizes the importance of hiring coordinators who believe in the clients they serve.

FSS Program Coordinator Training

Ongoing training can help FSS coordinators learn about new approaches or techniques and stay informed of program regulations. Trainings may be conducted in-house, remotely via webinar or other computer-based training or, where appropriate, programs may send staff to available trainings.

Areas to consider for training include (click the arrows to expand the content):

In addition to HUD materials, including this online training and the accompanying guidebook, there are many training resources available through consulting firms and other organizations. (Note that inclusion on this page is for informational purposes only, and does not imply the endorsement of HUD or any other organization.)

This video clip describes the range of training opportunities that can benefit FSS coordinators.

In addition to HUD materials, including this online training and the accompanying guidebook, there are many training resources available through consulting firms and other organizations.

Training on Basic Requirements of FSS

  • The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) Professional Development System offers a two-day training course for members and non-members, including a proficiency test and potential to earn NAHRO Continuing Education units.
  • Nan McKay and Associates offers a three-day training course for Housing Choice Voucher and public housing staff on all details of the FSS program. Participants may take a certification exam and obtain Continuing Professional Education (CPE) and Continuing Education Units (CEU) credits.
  • PIC Consulting offers an FSS Coordinator Professional Certification Program that is approved by the National Association of Social Workers and focuses on the day-to-day decisions made by FSS coordinators.
  • Quadel Consulting offers scheduled trainings on all aspects of the FSS program, as well as tailored trainings at clients’ request.

Training on Advanced Case Management and Coaching Techniques

Advanced case management and coaching training may cover specialized techniques such as trauma-informed care, Motivational Interviewing, and Co-Active Coaching. Click the arrows to expand the content.

Note that inclusion on this page is for informational purposes only, and HUD does not necessarily endorse or recommend these training resources.

 

Please complete this quiz before you proceed to the next module. To take the quiz, use the arrow keys or click the correct answer choice. If you answer incorrectly, you will be able to try again until you select the correct response.
Scores will not be recorded.

1. Which of the following are roles that FSS program coordinators play in the FSS program?

A - Recruiting new participants.Partially correct.While this is an important role, FSS coordinators are generally responsible for multiple functions associated with running the program. All of the above may be functions of FSS program coordinators.B - Helping participants set goals.Partially correct.While this is an important role, FSS coordinators are generally responsible for multiple functions associated with running the program. All of the above may be functions of FSS program coordinators.C - Building partnerships with service providers.Partially correct.While this is an important role, FSS coordinators are generally responsible for multiple functions associated with running the program. All of the above may be functions of FSS program coordinators.D - Monitoring participant progress.Partially correct.While this is an important role, FSS coordinators are generally responsible for multiple functions associated with running the program. All of the above may be functions of FSS program coordinators.E - Maintaining escrow accounts and approving escrow disbursement.Partially correct.While this is an important role, FSS coordinators are generally responsible for multiple functions associated with running the program. All of the above may be functions of FSS program coordinators.F - Determining when a participant can successfully graduate.Partially correct.While this is an important role, FSS coordinators are generally responsible for multiple functions associated with running the program. All of the above may be functions of FSS program coordinators.G - Reporting on program outcomes.Partially correct.While this is an important role, FSS coordinators are generally responsible for multiple functions associated with running the program. All of the above may be functions of FSS program coordinators.H - All of the above.Correct!Coordinators are the backbone of the FSS program and may be called on to execute many functions depending on the size of the program and the extent to which it contracts out some of these functions to nonprofit organizations.

2. True or False: HUD requires FSS coordinators to have a Master of Social Work (MSW) from an accredited program.

A - TrueIncorrect.HUD does not require any particular academic credentials.B - FalseCorrect!Many FSS programs prefer or require that coordinators have at least a four-year college degree in social work or a related field, while other programs focus more on prior experience that shows an ability to provide strong support for FSS participants. HUD does not require any particular academic credentials.

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