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Service Coordination Basics from Strategies and Practices for Effectively Serving All One-Stop Customers
The workforce investment system is designed to permit different entities responsible for administering separate human resource programs and funding streams (the One-Stop Center and other organizations in the system) to collaborate with one another. Under the programmatic regulations issued by ETA, this collaboration among mandated partners is designed to create a seamless system of service delivery that will make services easier and more cost-effective to use, and will also improve long-term employment outcomes for customers receiving assistance. At the same time, these collaborations must not result in a system in which customers with particular barriers (such as disability or limited English proficiency) are automatically referred to separate, "special" programs, staff, offices, or providers, without an individualized determination of the customer's needs. Such automatic referral constitutes unlawful segregation.
This section identifies specific examples of strategies and practices relating to service coordination that One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system have found useful and successful. These examples include service coordination strategies and practices relating to:
- Operational collaboration among mandatory partners and other agencies, and
- Joint staff planning.
Operational Collaboration Among Mandatory Partners and Other Agencies
One-Stop mandatory partners and other agencies report that they have been successful when they share responsibility for coordinating and providing financial assistance for the provision of the employment and support services needed to help individual customers achieve their employment objective and the provision of financial assistance for such services. Specific examples of practices related to operational collaboration that have proved successful include:
- Taking steps to improve the development of comprehensive policies and infrastructures that enhance cooperation and general operational collaboration among mandatory partners and other agencies and programs. Examples of such practices include:
- Establishing partnerships and linkages between agencies or organizations that offer complementary services.
- Entering into memoranda of understanding or other types of agreements with such agencies or organizations. The agreements may deal with such subjects as agreements to accept customer referrals from one another, or providing cross-training for staff of both agencies and organizations.
- These types of relationships can improve the ability of One-Stop Centers and other organizations to effectively meet the individual needs of customers in areas such as:
- Common intake and sharing of data
- Outreach and marketing to potential customers
- Service delivery
- Access to accommodations and assistive technology
- Performance measures
- Collecting outcome data
- Coordinating between mandatory partner agencies and other agencies to provide resources (both funding and in-kind resources) for individual customers in ways that allow each partner/agency to use its resources more efficiently. For instance, for a customer with significant disabilities that affect his or her ability to work, WIA Title I staff may provide outreach and connection to the employer, Title I of the Rehabilitation Act (Vocational Rehabilitation) funds may pay for on-the job training and support, and TANF funds may be used to help with childcare.
- Collaborating between mandatory partners and organizations that can help provide "support services" (such as health care, housing, benefits counseling, and transportation) that customers may have while they seek and achieve employment.
- Maintaining a list of local resources designed to assist individuals with barriers to employment (e.g., agencies providing interpreters for persons with limited English proficiency and persons who are deaf), and making that information available to both staff and customers. This information should be regularly updated.
- Informing job seekers about programs or activities for which they may be eligible that are offered by One-Stop mandated partners and non-mandated partners.
Joint Staff Planning at the System and Individual Levels
Various partners and entities within One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system participate in joint planning to enhance program effectiveness and efficiency at the system's level as well as at the level of the individual. At the system's level, joint planning of resources, for example, among multiple agencies can help ensure a seamless experience for the customer and an efficient use of resources for the agencies. At the individual level, job seekers need to be actively included in planning efforts and to be given the information necessary to make informed decisions about the services available from multiple agencies and the disclosure of personal information to the partners engaged in the planning and service delivery process.
Specific examples of practices related to joint staff planning at the systems level that have proved successful include:
- Convene a working group of mandated and non-mandated partners such as VR, mental Health, Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities, TANF, and Medicaid to address systemic barriers to joint service provision and co-funding of activities.
- Making the local Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) project for persons with disabilities a part of the team service coordination process, as needed. WIPA counselors can help customers with disabilities consider how getting a job will affect any disability benefits they may receive. The counselors can also train staff of the One-Stop or other workforce organizations about these benefits issues.
- If there are different approaches to case management being used by One-Stop partner agencies, communicating and collaborating between partners agencies to avoid duplication of effort.
- Having members of a customer's planning team attend staff meetings of team members from other partners, to help all team members develop a better understanding of each partner's resources and restrictions.
- Considering a broad range of entities (including nontraditional partner agencies) for participation in the process of career exploration and obtaining employment for each job seeker. Developing and implementing a process to reach out to additional entities as customers' needs dictate.
- Designating a coordinator or facilitator of the planning process.
Specific examples of practices related to joint staff planning at the individual level that have proved successful include:
- Creating a team of people from the job seeker's professional and personal (friends and family) networks to be a part of joint employment planning and service delivery.
- When appropriate, including in the planning team mandated and non-mandated partners such as VR, mental Health, Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities, TANF, and Medicaid, for purposes of identifying potential funding options.
- Actively involving the job seeker in all elements of planning. As appropriate, the job seeker is given the opportunity to take a lead role in the process.
- Developing plans for employment based on One-Stop customers' individual strengths, needs, and interests. When appropriate, plans for customers with disabilities include recommendations of accommodations, including assistive technology that may help the customer carry out the functions of a particular job, or participate in a particular program or activity.
- Helping all members of a customer's employment planning team ensure a stable, seamless experience by identifying and reducing typical "handoff" points in the One-Stop.