Building an Effective Infrastructure

MODULE 6.1: Building Partnerships

FSS programs with a strong base of supportive partners are more likely to be successful in helping participants achieve their goals.

This module describes how you can identify partnerships with service providers, government agencies, and other organizations.

In this Building Partnerships module you will learn about:

  • The Program Coordinating Committee (PCC), an advisory group of partners for the FSS program, and
    - Typical PCC members
    - Benefits of the PCC to its members and the PHA
    - Typical meeting frequencies and topics
  • Identifying potential partners
  • Standard arrangements with partners
  • Sustaining partnerships over time

This video talks about the importance of partnerships.

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

The Program Coordinating Committee

A PCC is a group of service providers and other key partners with the purpose of coordinating services and programs in the community for FSS participants.

The group meets periodically to provide guidance to the FSS program and ensure that FSS participants have access the resources to meet their self-sufficiency goals.

The most effective PCCs are beneficial to both the FSS program and the programs and organizations of their members.

Who Should Establish a PCC?

  • FSS programs operated by PHAs are required to form a PCC.
  • Multifamily FSS programs are not required to establish a formal PCC but may benefit from forming a PCC or similar coordinating body.

PHAs and owners may:

  • Form a new PCC by recruiting service partners
  • Use an existing group as their PCC if the membership of that entity is drawn from the appropriate organizations and the existing group agrees to play this function
  • Operate a joint PCC with another PHA or owner

More information about the Program Coordinating Committee can be found in Chapter 23.3 of the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Guidebook and in 24 CFR §984.202.

Hear from FSS program coordinators on the makeup and value of their PCCs.

A Program Coordinating Committee Has Several Functions and Benefits:

Service Coordination

The PCC provides a mechanism for getting service providers interested in the FSS program and committed to helping the program to meet the needs of FSS participants. Public and private agencies participating in a PCC can use the PCC to avoid duplication of services for FSS participants (and the community more broadly). The PCC can discuss and implement strategies to align services, ensure that there are no gaps, and conserve scarce resources.

Program Administration

PCCs may provide counsel to the PHA or owner in the development of FSS Action Plans and help guide the ongoing administration of the FSS program, as appropriate. PCC members should weigh in on any proposed changes to FSS policies.

Understanding of Participant Needs

Partners may find the PCC beneficial in developing a better understanding of the needs of FSS participants and other low-income families in the community and reducing the duplication of services.

This video describes an FSS program that works with the workforce development board to help families make progress toward economic security.

Program Coordinating Committee Members

FSS program regulations specify several required members of a PHA’s PCC. Aside from these required members, PHAs should determine who would be most effective as members of their PCC. Some recommendations are included below.

REQUIRED PCC Membership for PHA FSS Programs

Public Housing FSS Program PCCs are Required to Include:

  • Representatives of the PHA (FSS program staff, other supportive services staff, program managers)
  • Public housing residents

HCV FSS PCCs are Required to Include:

  • Representatives of the PHA (FSS program staff, other supportive services staff, program managers)
  • HCV program participants or public housing residents

RECOMMENDED PCC Membership

PHAs are encouraged to include appropriate representatives of local government, employment programs, educational organizations, and service organizations.

PCC Members May Include Representatives from (click the arrows to expand the content):

PCC Members Also Typically Include:

  • Landlords
  • Residents (required members for PHAs)
  • Legal aid organizations
  • Foundations/ funders
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Transportation services
  • Child care services
  • Disability service providers
  • Emergency services agencies
  • Furniture or consignment store owners
  • Clothing store owners

PCC Meetings

Frequency of Meetings

  • FSS programs can choose to hold meetings more or less often depending on how much guidance and collaboration is needed.
  • Many PCCs meet quarterly.
  • It might be useful to hold meetings more regularly when the program is first being developed and implemented, and then scale back as desired after the program has been up and running for a year or more.

As explained in the video, the PCC for the Sioux City Housing Authority meets quarterly.

Meeting Agendas

  • PCC meetings should be no longer than necessary and meaningful.
  • Meetings can provide members an opportunity to share ideas and learn from each other. Sometimes the PCC is the only service-coordinating body in the community.
  • Agendas topics will vary depending on the program and community but should be focused and developed in advance of the meeting. Without a commitment to and investment in cultivating a meaningful experience for all participants, meetings can become routine and subsequently poorly attended.

Typical topics of discussion include:

  • Updates on outreach and enrollment
  • Proposed changes to program design, policies, or procedures
  • Identifying new programs and resources
  • Identifying service gaps; brainstorming how to fill the gaps
  • Brainstorming about a couple of unusually challenging FSS cases
  • Updates from FSS participants and graduates

Identifying and Outreach to Potential Partners

All FSS programs will need to identify and develop partnerships with service providers, government agencies, and other key partners.

There are many ways to identify potential partners (click the arrows to expand the content):

Additional resources on partnership building is presented in:

Chapter 4 - Employment and Job Training Programs

Chapter 5 - Financial Capability Partners

Structuring Agreements With Partners

HUD does not require that FSS programs enter into a written agreement such as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with partners providing services.

However, some programs may wish to formalize some or all partnerships with service providers.  It’s up to you and your agency to determine how best to structure agreements with partners so that you can successfully refer FSS participants to their programs and services as needed.

Written agreements are helpful for:

  • Clarifying expectations and deepening the partner’s understanding and commitment to serving FSS participants
  • Specifying how both parties will ensure that any resident data collected or shared will be protected and remain confidential
  • Clarifying expectations whenever money is going to be exchanged for services

PIH Notice 2011-51 includes several sample documents that can be used as a reference.

 Sample Memorandum of Understanding between Any Town Housing Authority and the Community College District for Self-Sufficiency Programs - Nan McKay and Associates

Informal Partnerships
Formal agreements take time and often money to execute and may not always be necessary. Many FSS coordinators recommend developing informal partnerships with providers.

Taking a Mixed Approach
Other PHAs have established a middle ground, creating informal partnership agreements that lay out general expectations for the coordination of services but is not signed by the organizations.

FSS programs can also vary their approach depending on the partner. Programs may want to develop more formal agreements with a few core agencies and informal agreements with other partners.

Once an initial partnership has been developed, either formally or informally, it is important for FSS coordinators to work to sustain that partnership over time.

This video emphasizes the importance of developing strong relationships with the workforce development board, formalized through a MOU.

Ongoing Relationships with Partners

Once an initial partnership has been developed, either formally or informally, it is important for FSS coordinators to work to sustain that partnership over time.

Maintaining a relationship ensures that the partner continues to be engaged in the FSS program and that FSS participants are aware of and can access appropriate supportive services when they need them.

FSS program coordinators should assume responsibility for reaching out to the partner, setting up meetings, and following up while being mindful of the partner’s time and responsibilities.

Good relationships with partners take regular attention and give and take. With a little effort, FSS coordinators can build and maintain lasting relationships that benefit FSS participants.

In addition to maintaining strong relationships with individual service providers, FSS coordinators may wish to work with partners to align systems across providers so that access to services is more seamless for participants.

Watch the video about this approach.

PHAs and Owners Can Maintain Ongoing Relationships With Partners Through:

PCC Meetings
Regular PCC meetings are a great opportunity to meet with and engage partners. Some FSS coordinators invite all partners to participate in PCC meetings, even if they are not formal members.

Individual Meetings with Partners
In addition to PCC meetings and other FSS events, it is good practice to periodically meet one-on-one with key partners to discuss the partnership from their perspectives. Coordinators may use these meetings to discuss whether any referral or data-sharing agreements need to modified.

FSS Events
Invite partners to FSS graduations, annual parties, and other celebrations and events.

Partner Surveys
Large FSS programs and many service partners may elect to conduct an annual survey to learn how the partners view their participation in FSS and what improvements or adjustments could be made to the program to encourage ongoing participation and collaboration in the FSS program.

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 is not a role of the Program Coordinating Committee?

A - Provide funding for the FSS program.Correct!While PCC members often collaborate to fundraise for their mutual programs, providing funding for the FSS program is not a role of the PCC.B - Coordinate services in the community for FSS participants.Incorrect.Coordinating services in the community is the primary role of the PCC.C - Provide input into the FSS Action Plan.Incorrect.PCCs should provide counsel to PHAs in the development of the FSS Action Plan.  The FSS Action Plan must include a Certificate of Coordination that the services provided by the FSS program will be coordinated with available local services and employment programs.D - Review proposed changes to FSS policies.Incorrect.PCCs should provide counsel to PHAs in the ongoing administration of the FSS program.

2. Who are PHA FSS programs required to have as members of their Program Coordinating Committees?

A - Local workforce development board representative.Incorrect.While PHAs are strongly encouraged to include representatives of local Workforce Development Boards and employment training programs, they are not required members.B - Public housing residents or Housing Choice Voucher participants.Partially correct.PHAs are required to have participants of either the HCV or public housing program on their PCC, in addition to representatives of their agency.C - Representatives of the PHA.Partially correct.PHAs are required to have representatives of their agency on the PCC, in addition to participants of either the HCV or public housing program.D - TANF agencies.Incorrect.PHAs are not required to have representatives of TANF agencies on their PCC.E - B and C only.Correct!PHAs are required to have both representatives of their agency and participants of the HCV or public housing program on their PCC.F - All of the above.Incorrect.While PHAs are required to have both representatives of their agency and participants of the HCV or public housing program on their PCC, they are not required to have representatives of TANF agencies or of local Workforce Development Boards and employment training programs on their PCC.

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