Outreach and Goal-Setting

Module 2.2: Outreach and Enrollment

Outreach and Enrollment

The voluntary nature of the FSS program makes proactive marketing to potential participants essential. Many FSS programs have found recruitment to be a challenge, as residents are wary about a new program and may have had negative experiences with prior programs. An effective marketing strategy can help to overcome this challenge.

Your FSS Action Plan must describe the policies and procedures for admitting new participants to the program, as well as the outreach activities you plan to use to recruit participants.

This module covers best practices for marketing your FSS program, as well as information on potential participants who may be the focus of your outreach activities.

Learn more about the Action Plan at 24 CFR §984.201.

Selection of Participants

FSS program participants must be current public housing, HUD-assisted multifamily housing or Housing Choice Voucher program participants who are interested in increasing their earnings to make progress toward self-sufficiency. Residents of housing units assisted with project-based vouchers are eligible as participants in the Housing Choice Voucher program.

In recruiting participants for FSS, it is important not to discriminate against any group. This means including, among other potential participants:

  • People with disabilities (including those who need reasonable accommodations to participate)
  • People with limited English proficiency
  • Veterans
  • Formerly homeless persons
  • Formerly incarcerated people

Selection Preferences

When enrolling new participants in the program, PHAs may give a selection preference for up to 50 percent of their FSS slots to families with a member already enrolled in, or currently on the waiting list for, an FSS-related service program.

This selection preference includes FSS families that are porting in, as they would already be participating in the FSS program and thus meet the standard. (For more information on FSS families that are porting in, see the Housing Choice Voucher Program Guidebook, page 23-5)

Those not selected via this preference must be selected using an objective process such as a lottery or on a first-come, first-served basis.

Program rules also allow PHAs and owners to use a family’s “interest, and motivation to participate in the FSS program” as a selection factor in determining which families to admit into the FSS program. (24 CFR §984.203)

However, FSS programs may not adopt screening requirements related to:

  • Educational level
  • Employment status
  • Age
  • Previous job history or job performance
  • Credit rating
  • Marital status
  • Number of children
  • Skills
  • Any other factors which may discriminate against persons with disabilities or other minority or non-minority groups

For more on selection of FSS participants, see 24 CFR §984.203.

Screening for Motivation

Screening for motivation may increase the likelihood that FSS program enrollees will be successful participants.

There are several ways to screen for motivation, including requiring the head of household to:

  • Complete and submit a pre-screening form sent to new residents or as part of a reexamination mailing
  • Attend an FSS orientation or interview
  • Follow up on a referral to a job or an education program
  • Complete an education workshop or training program

All required screening activities must be accessible to all participants, without regard to educational level, disability status, or English fluency.

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

Establishing a Waiting List for the FSS Program

If there are more families interested in the FSS program than you can reasonably support, you may choose to establish a waiting list.

The following may be useful policies to consider when establishing a waiting list:

  • Only place residents on a waiting list when there is a reasonable expectation they will be admitted into the program within 12 to 18 months. Residents who remain on waiting lists too long may lose interest in the program.
  • Review data from previous years to determine how many participants are likely to graduate each year.
  • Review data for current FSS participants to see who is likely to graduate in the coming year and determine how many people to select off the list each year.
  • Keep in touch with residents on the waiting list to help maintain interest; for example, include them on regular mailers and other communication to FSS participants.
  • Consider offering a modest level of services to people on the waiting list if you have capacity to serve them, such as referrals to community programs or job search workshops.

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Innovative Approaches to Participant Recruitment

Outreach to potential participants in the FSS program can and should take place at multiple points in time and through a variety of approaches. Some of the outreach and recruitment approaches used by FSS programs include (click the arrows to expand the content):

FSS practitioners share their marketing and recruitment strategies in this video clip.

The following are suggested topics for informational materials (click the arrows to expand the content):

A description of the FSS program A description of the FSS program, noting that it is a voluntary program designed to last five years, but that residents can complete their goals and graduate from the program sooner.A description of the process through which participants
advance through the FSS program
A description of the process through which participants advance through the FSS program including participant assessments, the development of Individual Training and Services Plans, the pursuit of suitable employment, etc.
A list of benefits of enrollment in the FSS program A list of benefits of enrollment in the FSS program, including automatic savings through an escrow account and the support, guidance and resource linkages provided by an FSS coordinator.Sample escrow calculations Sample escrow calculations that highlight how growth in earnings leads to substantial escrowed savings.A list of services and supports A list of services and supports that the FSS program can help participants access.Sample profiles of successful FSS program graduates Sample profiles of successful FSS program graduates to illustrate in an accessible story form the potential of the program to help families make progress toward economic security. All profiles should be with the explicit permission of the individual and should only include their first names or initials or use a pseudonym.


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Branding and Messaging of the FSS Program

Some PHAs and owners have also chosen to rename their FSS programs to avoid confusion among potential participants about how the program works or better reflect their local program focus.

In these videos FSS practitioners describe why they changed their local program names and how they re-branded the program to better communicate its goals.

Examples of FSS Promotional Materials

Below are links to examples of FSS promotional materials from various FSS program providers.

 

The following are examples of promotional materials utilized by FSS programs:

The sample resources provided on this page are for information purposes only. Their inclusion in this training does not imply the endorsement of HUD or any other organization.

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. True or False: PHAs operating a public housing or Housing Choice Voucher program may give an FSS selection preference to families with a member already enrolled in an FSS-related service program or on the waiting list for such a program.

A - TrueCorrect!PHAs may give a selection preference for up to 50 percent of FSS slots to families that meet this condition. See 24 CFR §984.203(a).B - FalseIncorrect.This statement is true. A selection preference for families enrolled in an FSS-related program, or on the waitlist for such a program, is permitted by HUD program rules. See 24 CFR §984.203(a)

2. True or False: PHAs and owners may not screen potential participants in the FSS program for any reason.

A - TrueIncorrect.PHAs and owners are permitted to screen residents for motivation but not for any other reason. Screening for motivation may increase the likelihood that new enrollees will be successful FSS participants. See 24 CFR §984.203(c).B - FalseCorrect!PHAs and owners may screen residents for motivation but not for any other reason. Screening for motivation may increase the likelihood that new enrollees will be successful FSS participants. See 24 CFR §984.203(c).

3. Which of the following are ways that PHAs and owners screen for motivation to participate in the FSS program?

A - Require residents to complete and submit a form indicating interest in the program.Partially correct.This is one way to screen for motivation, but FSS programs can use a variety of approaches. All of the above are permissible.B - Attendance at an FSS orientation meeting or meeting with the FSS coordinator.Partially correct.This is one way to screen for motivation, but FSS programs can use a variety of approaches. All of the above are permissible.C - Resident follow-up on a referral to a job or training program.Partially correct.This is one way to screen for motivation, but FSS programs can use a variety of approaches. All of the above are permissible.D - All of the above.Correct!PHAs and owners may use a variety of methods to screen residents for motivation, as long as required tasks are accessible to all potential applicants without regard to educational level, disability status, or limited English proficiency. See 24 CFR §984.203(c)(2).

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