I was fortunate enough to attend the American Public Human Services Association’s (APHSA) 2014 Policy Forum. The conference’s theme was ‘transformation’ emphasizing that now is the time for government social services agencies to transform their service delivery models to provide better, faster, cheaper services to their clients. The pieces for transformation are at hand:
- Local funding restraints in the wake of the recession
- An overarching call for better outcome tied to data analytics
- The technological revolution of the last ten years
- ACA implementation as a catalyst and source of federal funds
I learned much about the innovative ways states and counties provide services to low-income families. The primary commonality is a shift from in-person interactions to self-service portals, interactive voice response (IVR), and smartphone apps. But even with the change in service delivery models, agencies acknowledge that not all clients are comfortable with the new technologies and that accommodation for in-person contact is still needed. One of the more intriguing presentations came from San Diego County, CA. San Diego County is successfully using video conferencing for face-to-face interviews in the more remote areas of the county. The use of video conferencing has improved efficiency, eliminated the cost of staff to travel to these areas, and improved client outcomes.
Other presentations of note focused on
- The international strive for program integration
- How other nations handle employment and training services
- Research on brain development and the effects of stress upon individuals in poverty
- Data, data, and more data and how to use data and data analytics for measuring outcomes and improving service delivery
In the upcoming weeks I’ll post additional blogs and white papers based upon the APHSA Policy Forum.