2. Outreach and Goal-Setting
3. Case Management / Coaching
4. Increasing Earnings
5. Building Financial Capability
6. FSS Infrastructure
3. Case Management / Coaching
Local service providers play an essential role in the FSS program, providing participants with the trainings, services, and other resources they need to meet their goals and to meet the needs of family members.
As an FSS program coordinator, one of your roles is to connect participants with relevant service providers to help them achieve their goals. These resources should be identified in participants’ FSS Action Plans.
You are not expected to provide coaching or services that are beyond your expertise, training, or skill level, or simply outside the mission of the PHA. Referrals enable participants to receive these specialized assessments and services and allow you to focus on the key role of helping participants to achieve their goals, including all of the incremental steps along the way.
The partnerships you develop with service providers, including through your Program Coordinating Committee, will help to ensure the availability of supportive services to meet a broad range of needs.
Working with a Program Coordinating Committee and building strong partnerships with service providers will be covered later in this training.
For more on the Program Coordinating Committee, see 24 CFR §984.202.
The referrals you make will depend on program participants’ needs and the resources available in your community. Partners will likely include service providers operating in at least the following areas (click the arrows to expand the content):
FSS © 2017 | U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Employment Training Programs and Placement
Workforce Development Boards that operate state and local workforce development and training programs can provide FSS participants with access to specific work-promoting services. The Workforce Development Boards oversee the American Job Centers (formerly One-Stop Career Shops) that provide employment search and training assistance.
In addition to service providers, local employers also may offer career planning advice, job search assistance, assistance with resume-building, and training in soft skills such as communication, organizational skills, and interview practice that will help participants succeed in obtaining and maintaining employment.
Education and Skills Development
Key partners include local basic skills education programs, community colleges, four-year colleges, job training programs, and employment placement services, as well as programs funded with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training funds.
Financial Education and Capability
Partners include financial education and credit counseling providers, asset-building nonprofit organizations, homeownership counseling providers, and banks and credit unions.
Human Services/TANF Agency
The local department of human services or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) agency will be an important partner for an FSS program and is recommended by HUD to be a member of the Program Coordinating Committee. These agencies provide services for which FSS participants may be eligible including employment services, health and mental health services for any family member, cash assistance, child care, and emergency financial assistance. The TANF agency can also be a significant source of connections to other programs that serve low-income families and assist family members as needed.
City or County Government
Local governments have been a source of funding for some FSS programs by designating grant funds for some services and resources for participants such as for child care, transportation, and tuition and educational supplies.
Some FSS programs recruit, train, and supervise volunteers from the community to serve in a variety of capacities, including as mentors to FSS participants (performing a case management or coaching role), English language tutors or class teachers, GED tutors, and tutors for various college courses (as needed by participants). Federal Work-Study college students and college interns may provide any of the above volunteer services; they may also do research to identify more service providers for example.
Other types of service providers might include organizations providing literacy and English language classes, disability service providers, nutritionists, transportation services, mentorship services, professional clothing, child care providers, health and behavioral health clinics, and agencies providing emergency services. Other, nontraditional partners include automobile service shops, which can provide low-cost car maintenance services, higher-end consignment shops, which can provide work or interview clothes, and representatives from a community farmer’s market or grocery store, who may be willing to provide nutrition and food preparation classes free of charge. While not typically thought of as “service providers,” these partners can provide important supports that make a big difference in participants’ lives.
You will likely make several rounds of referrals as participants move through different phases of the program—at the initial FSS participant assessment, at goal-setting, and then at ongoing meetings, including following achievement of interim goals.
In many cases, referrals are steps building toward a larger goal: At the initial assessment, for example, a participant interested in homeownership may receive a referral to a credit union to establish a relationship with a financial institution and open and gain experience maintaining a bank account. At goal-setting, the participant may be referred to a credit counseling agency for help achieving the interim goal of increasing the participant’s credit score, and then at ongoing meetings the participant may be referred to a housing counseling agency to assess readiness and prepare for homeownership.
Similarly, a participant interested in advancing in a chosen career track may first be referred to a workforce center for a career assessment to help identify individual training and education plans. At goal-setting, the participant may be referred to an basic skills education program, community college, or workforce center to obtain training or education that is contextualized for the participant’s chosen career path. Finally, the participant may be referred to a provider that offers professional clothing as the participant begins the interview process for specific job openings.
In other cases, however, this sequence does not progress in such a straightforward manner and referrals are based first on a triage approach designed to meet the highest priority needs. For example, a participant who presents a health crisis in their initial assessment may first be referred to a community health clinic to address immediate health concerns. After this crisis has been resolved and the participant is given time to recover, additional referrals can be made—to career planning, basic skills or literacy classes, or degree programs—to begin moving closer to achieving long-term goals.
Crisis management can happen at any time, not only at the initial assessment. Especially among very low-income participants, crises can be debilitating and disruptive, and lead to the loss of a job or housing, making it difficult to stay on track to achieve longer-term goals. Referrals and crisis intervention may be needed at various points throughout a participant’s tenure in the FSS program.
This video explains why individualized referrals are a client-centered best practice.
Practitioners recommend building relationships with services providers so that you can make individualized and personalized referrals at every stage. Direct personal referrals, such as a phone call to let a provider know to expect a specific individual, may increase the likelihood that the participant will follow through and that he or she will receive effective, relevant assistance.
In addition to making effective referrals, it is important to follow-up on any referrals at the next meeting. Tracking what referral was made and whether the participant followed through on the referral is key to knowing if the participant is actively working toward the goals in their Individual Training and Services Plan. Ultimately, a referral is only useful if it becomes an action that results in the family making progress toward their goals.
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.
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