Policy & Practice | Spring 2024

Policy & Practice | Spring 2024

The Magazine of the American Public Human Services

Association Spring 2024

M oving Well-Being upstream toproactively PROMOTE Human Services



MAY 29 − 31

INTERSTATE PLACEMENT AAICPC Annual Business Meeting , Training Workshop , & Child Welfare Conference

Westin Beach Resort & Spa at Frenchman ’ s Reef St . Thomas , U . S . Virgin Islands aphsa . org / AAICPC / default . aspx

JUNE 9 − 12

POLICY AND PRACTICE National Human Services Summit

Crystal Gateway Marriott Arlington , VA www . aphsanationalsummit . com

AUGUST 25 − 28

SNAP , TANF , & PROGRAM INTEGRITY Economic Mobility & Well - Being Conference

Hilton Portland Downtown Portland , OR www . emwbconference . com


TECHNOLOGY & LEGAL ISM + PHSA Education Conference & Expo for IT Solutions Management for Human Services ( ISM ) and Public Human Services Attorneys ( PHSA ) ORGANIZATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS National Staff Development and Training Association ( NSDTA ) Annual Education Conference

Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center Aurora , CO www . ismconference . com www . phsattorneys . com

OCTOBER 20 − 23

The Clyde Hotel Albuquerque , NM www . nsdtaconference . com


www.APHSA.org aphsa.org/APHSA/Events/conferences_webinars.aspx




Vol. 82, No. 1 Spring 2024




3 Note From APHSA’s President & CEO Reggie Bicha

5 From Our Partners

Providing Consistency in Chaos: How to Stabilize the Human Services Workforce

6 Partnering for Impact

Values in Motion: Elevating Leadership with a Focus on Well-Being

8 Leadership Corner

Leading Upstream: Cultivating an Inclusive Leadership Stance to Promote Well-Being

Data Sharing for Community Wellness Unlocking the Power of Collaboration Across Agencies

22 Technology Speaks On the Outside Looking In: Reimagining Child Care Program and Policy Through a Cross-Pollination Lens 27 Staff Spotlight Rebekah Sides, Policy Associate, Social and Economic Mobility


Staff Spotlight Natalie Williams, Chief Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Officer

28 Staff Spotlight

Nana Sasu, Senior Process Innovation Associate, Portfolio Management

Staff Spotlight Emily Adams, Policy Associate, Child Care and Early Childhood Programs

Where Is Our Firetruck? Elevating the Value of Human Services and Strengthening Workforce Development 18

Moving a Mountain … One Rock at a Time A Scioto County Success Story


Spring 2024 Policy & Practice

Strategic Industry Partners DIAMOND

APHSA Executive Governing Board

Chair Grace B. Hou-Ovnik, Secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services Vice Chair Rodney Adams, Principal/CEO, R Adams & Associates Treasurer Katherine H. Park, CEO, Evident Change CEO Reggie Bicha, President & CEO, APHSA Leadership Council Chair Kelly Garcia, Director, Iowa Department of Health and Human Services Local Council Chair Dan Makelky, Director, Douglas County (CO) Department of Human Services Elected Director Derrik Anderson, Executive Director, Race Matters for Juvenile Justice

Elected Director Vannessa L. Dorantes, Managing Director, Casey Family Programs Elected Director Sherron Rogers , Vice President & CFO, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Elected Director Terry J. Stigdon , CEO, American Red Cross Elected Director Jennifer Sullivan , Enterprise Senior Vice President, Strategic Operations, Atrium Health Elected Director Eboni Washington , Assistant Director, Clark County (NV) Juvenile Justice Services Immediate Past Chair

Dannette R. Smith, Commissioner, Behavioral Health Administration




Policy & Practice Spring 2024

By Reggie Bicha Note From APHSA’s President & CEO

A s you read this, my time with the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) is several months underway and we have hit the ground running! APHSA has always been a top-notch membership organization—I already knew this through my time as an active member. I’ve been involved with our affinity groups and the Executive Governing Board while leading agencies in Wisconsin and Colorado. To say I am excited to take these experiences and combine them with the most current insights I have garnered through extensive conversations this year with staff, members, and partners across the country, would be an understate ment. With and through all of you, APHSA has already accomplished so much as an organization over the past 90 years. It’s time to take these accom plishments to the next level of growth and impact. Together we can, and we will, reach our desired future state for human services. During our time together at the upcoming APHSA National Human Services Summit—or other events, meetings, and interactions to follow— I look forward to connecting with you and strategizing about how we can move forward a new generation of policy solutions, give greater voice to the people we serve, and strengthen relationships while building new ones. This is what will take us to the next level so we can continue to build thriving communities across the nation for years to come. I hope to see you soon!

In action with the APHSA team

at the Spring Staff Retreat

Meeting with APHSA Executive Governing Board and Leadership Council. Pictured from left to right: Reggie; Matt Lyons, APHSA; and Fariborz Pakseresht, Oregon Department of Human Services

Spending time with members and partners. From left to right: Reggie; Joe Ribsam, Annie E. Casey Foundation; and Janee Harvey, Iowa Department of Health and Human Services


Spring 2024 Policy & Practice

Policy & Practice™ (ISSN 1942-6828) is published four times a year by the American Public Human Services Association, 1300 N. 17th Street, Suite 340, Arlington, VA 22209. For subscription information, contact APHSA at (202) 682-0100 or visit the website at www.aphsa.org. Copyright © 2024. All rights reserved. This magazine may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. The viewpoints expressed in contributors’ materials are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of APHSA. Postmaster: Send address changes to Policy & Practice 1300 N. 17th Street, Suite 340, Arlington, VA 22209

Advertising Anna Nogueira ads_exhibits@aphsa.org

President & CEO Reggie Bicha Communications Director/Editor- in-Chief Jessica Garon jgaron@aphsa.org

Subscriptions Jordan Ahmad jahmad@aphsa.org

Design & Production Chris Campbell

Editor Amy Plotnick

2024 Advertising Calendar


Ad Deadline

Issue Theme


May 31

Advancing Social and Economic Mobility for Equitable, Long-Term Success


August 7 October 9

Emerging Technology and Process Innovation: Modernizing for the Future of Human Services


Community-Led Solutions: Partnerships for System Change

Size and Placement Two-page center spread: Back Cover (Cover 4): Inside Back Cover (Cover 3): Inside Front Cover (Cover 2):


Discount for 4 Consecutive Issues

$8,000 $6,000 $5,400 $5,400 $3,000 $1,200 $1,050

$7,200/issue $5,400/issue $4,860/issue $4,860/issue $2,700/issue $1,080/issue $945/issue

Full page:

Half page, horizontal: One-third page, vertical:

APHSA’s blog, The Catalyst , encourages the exchange of creative ideas and promising initiatives to strengthen the human services sector and accelerate our collective impact. Featuring content from members, partners, and staff, our blog posts focus on what it takes to build well-being from the ground up. Organized around areas of impact as well as a variety of special series, our goal is to spark new ideas and accelerate the spread of promising approaches that help realize our shared vision for thriving communities built on human potential.

Read the Latest Post, Visit APHSA.org/APHSABlog/default.aspx


Policy & Practice Spring 2024

from our partners By Laura Haffield

Providing Consistency in Chaos: How to Stabilize the Human Services Workforce

“Every worker needs more hands, more eyes, more ears, more time to complete all the requirements of this job and to do it well. We have seen huge turnover in child welfare for the last several years and it all goes back to that feeling that there is simply more to be done than what is possible.” T his quote from Loree Walker, protective services program administrator for Jackson County Job and Family Services (JFS), sum marizes a common issue for human services agencies across the country that feel the effects of the ongoing workforce crisis. Overwhelmed staff is trying to keep up with demands, while resources remain limited. As noted in a recent caseload study, 1 understaffing only leads to more understaffing as pressure grows with every departure and position that sits unfilled. “There is a need to urgently and quickly respond to families’ needs, and all this leads to increased pressure, overwhelming stress, and burnout,” Walker said. Despite these challenges, thoughtful leaders are tackling staffing shortages in ways that both address immediate needs while positioning the industry to be more sustainable in the future. They are looking for new ways to solve old problems. In Ohio, Jackson County JFS is leading the charge. Solving the Caseworker Crisis with Jackson County JFS Consider all the paperwork that workers are responsible for— requesting records, summarizing extensive case information, processing

staff and partners with workers to complete work, support case reviews, and connect with external providers on their behalf. As a result, workers can focus on the peoplework, while receiving dedicated support on the critical yet burdensome paperwork. “Case Aide Services provides staff with the ability to reallocate their time and dedicate themselves to focusing on child safety and well-being,” said Tammy Osborne-Smith, director of Jackson County JFS. “Staff is actually able to shift their focus, provide services and support, and share resources with families and children versus working hours on end on data entry and obtaining documentation.”

referrals, preparing documents for court, and organizing files. Often caseworkers feel they have more admin istrative tasks to complete than hours in the day, which limits their ability to prioritize time with clients—the “peoplework” that drew many of them to human services in the first place. Since 64 percent of burnout stems from these work-related factors, 2 Jackson County JFS recognized it can support workers by removing these time-consuming tasks from their to-do lists altogether. This is why Jackson County JFS partnered with Northwoods to provide Case Aide Services to child welfare workers. With Case Aide Services, a team of Northwoods’ social services experts becomes an extension of the agency’s

See From Our Partners on page 25

Illustration by Chris Campbell


Spring 2024 Policy & Practice

partnering for impact

By Trinka Landry-Bourne, Lofaine Bradford, Julia Mueller, and Robena Spangler

Values in Motion: Elevating Leadership with a Focus on Well-Being

S ince December 2022, the Association (APHSA) and Social Current have worked together in part nership to create a new leadership framework for community-based and public-sector human services leaders that will change the way they work together. The goal of this framework, which is being developed with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is to contribute to a sea change in how human services leaders, both community-based and in the public sector, work together and across systems to address structural racism; shift power and authentically center community voices; and advance equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging across the sector. A critical part of this work to date has focused on developing and honing ways to help leaders identify and implement a new operating paradigm that puts people at the center of the work, and unlocking the power of com munity-led solutions. We know that a change in how sector leaders work is foundational to advancing equitable, community-led outcomes. Through focus groups, story gath ering, a literature review, and the leadership experiences of both Social Current and APHSA, we have collected and synthesized a rich set of insights and impactful practices. From this collective input, we have been able to map the next generation of leader ship competencies for human services leaders. How leaders demonstrate their personal and professional values and principles within the organization has American Public Human Services

emerged as a common theme, along with employee psychological safety and well-being. Shifting from Traditional Leadership Models Most traditional leadership models—which often focus heavily on tactical components such as strategic

thinking, problem-solving, and good communication—don’t move the needle, particularly for human services leaders who face a myriad of issues, including limited resources, workforce challenges, and budgetary constraints. These traditional com petencies reflect important skills but miss the mark of defining what can

Illustration by Chris Campbell


Policy & Practice Spring 2024

how an organization manages its goals related to values, principles, and well-being. Successful leaders model well-being by taking time for reflec tion and personal growth. This means setting expectations that are reason able and attainable. Showing value in modeling self-care is an effective way to promote well-being, address burnout, and understand its root causes. Employee burnout across all levels is real. Feelings of isolation and anxiety have a direct impact on organizational health and community well-being. Elevating well-being requires a pause to ensure everyone understands the importance of psychological and envi ronmental safety in the workplace.

extend that feeling to how they serve families and communities. Next Generation Leadership Framework Connections Successful leaders across the human services ecosystem share a unique lens on the impact that the human services sector can have on the systems that shape and support all people across their lifespan. Key amongst them is a vital understanding that impact is not about what you do—how many people you serve or how long you’ve been in existence—it’s about moving beyond the foundation of program delivery and service efficiency to root cause-driven solutions. This next gen eration leadership framework is driven

truly connect human services leaders to the communities they serve. Next generation leadership com petencies are shaped more by values and principles than simply defining and achieving a mission. They equip leaders with the shared goal of embed ding community voices and modeling power-sharing to achieve transforma tive, systems-level change that can lead to a stronger, healthier, and more impactful human services ecosystem that can better serve all people. Mission vs. Values This shift from a traditional mission-centric approach to one grounded in values can be illustrated

by looking at the difference between an organization’s

Leaders who are mindful of the way they show up also recognize its positive effect on the workforce and ultimately the communities they serve. By elevating the voice and needs of staff in planning and decision-making, leaders allow for a shift in power.

by the values and principles that all successful leaders share—driving equitable solutions from diverse per spectives, inclusive of all voices. It is also developed in collaboration with individuals and families with lived experience invested in achieving positive and lasting changes

mission and values state ment. A mission statement is a short and precise declaration of the organiza

tion’s purpose in society. Its values are the principles that guide how the organization thinks and acts. While a mission statement explains the organization’s reason for existing, values describe its culture and beliefs. The shift to a values-based approach is one that will engage leaders to truly connect to their employees and communities. Within the human services sector, continual crises can often overshadow values and principles. When the focus is on survival, it can also be difficult to stay aligned with the organiza tion’s mission. Well-articulated values and principles provide direction and behavioral guardrails during times of disruption and intentional focus on these can help leaders stay the course. In challenging times, a leader’s value in their employees is shown in how the organization gives focus and attention to their safety and well-being. Opportunities to empower employees and improve communication define

Accountability in Principles and Well-Being Accountability shows up within leadership, not only as a value, but as an internal principle. Leaders who hold themselves accountable show up with integrity and build trust. They take the first step and pave the way for staff to build trust and confidence in them. Leaders who are mindful of the way they show up also recognize its positive effect on the workforce and ultimately the communities they serve. By elevating the voice and needs of staff in planning and decision making, leaders allow for a shift in power. Value in diversity, personal efforts, and well-being empowers the workforce to develop personally and professionally. Through a shift in power, the workforce feels safe to put observations and learned experiences into practice in the workplace and

in the human services sector. Coming soon in 2025: Participate in APHSA's newly launched Leadership Academy—an interactive learning experience for next generation human services leaders! Trinka Landry-Bourne is an Organizational Effectiveness (OE) Consultant for Leadership Development at APHSA.

Lofaine Bradford is the Learning Coordinator for OE at APHSA.

Julia Mueller is the Community Engagement Specialist for OE at APHSA. Robena Spangler is the Senior Director of Leadership and Organizational Development at Social Current.


Spring 2024 Policy & Practice

leadership corner

By Donna L. Wilson, PhD, LPC

Leading Upstream: Cultivating an Inclusive Leadership Stance to Promote Well-Being

W hen human services leaders take an upstream leadership stance, they proactively and strategi cally mitigate issues and challenges before they become more significant concerns. Infusing this standpoint with an equity lens allows them to double down and promote well-being with a person-centered and equitable approach. Leading upstream through an equity lens involves ensuring that your strate gies consider and address potential disparities and injustices within your organization or community. It means actively preventing and eliminating inequities, promoting fairness, and creating a more inclusive and diverse environment. Here are some specific ways to lead upstream with an inten tional focus on equity and well-being: Establish Inclusive Language n Ensure that your staff, partners, people you serve, and community

have shared meaning for terms (e.g., diversity, inclusion, power).

n Cultivate a culture of respect and inclusion where everyone feels valued and heard. n Ensure that staff knows how to apply the learning to real-life scenarios. Complete Equity Impact Assessments n Before implementing new policies or strategies, conduct equity impact assessments to evaluate potential consequences on different demo graphic groups. n Adjust plans as needed to minimize negative impacts on marginalized communities. Establish Affinity Groups and Employee Resource Networks n Establish affinity groups and employee resource networks that offer support and networking oppor tunities for underrepresented groups. n Ensure these groups have a platform to influence decision-making.

Engage in Inclusive Decision-Making n Investigate who is missing from the table and include them in decision-making. n Create opportunities for input from individuals representing various backgrounds and perspectives. Conduct Equity Audits n Conduct regular equity audits to assess your organization’s policies, practices, and systems. n Identify and rectify any dispari ties in hiring, promotions, pay, and opportunities. Offer Annual Cultural Competence Training n Provide training on cultural competence and diversity for all team members.

See Leadership Corner on page 24

Illustration by Chris Campbell/Shutterstock


Policy & Practice Spring 2024





JUNE 9-12





TOP 5 REASONS TO ATTEND: 1. HEAR from Federal Partners 2. NETWORK with Peers from Across the Country 3. ATTEND Top Tier Educational Sessions 4. BE INSPIRED by Thought Leaders 5. DISCOVER Solutions for the Future Together We look forward to seeing you soon!

The latest trends and innovations in policy, practice, and programs as we dive into this year's themes: • Moving Human Services Upstream • Advancing Social and Economic Mobility • Strengthening the Human Services Sector

Learn More, Register, & Book Your Stay Today! www.aphsanationalsummit.com | www.aphsa.org

Illustration by Chris Campbell


Policy & Practice Spring 2024

FOR Community Wellness Unlocking the Power of Collaboration Across Agencies DATA SHARING

By Nikisha S. Johnson and Leah Pewitt

Imagine the dilemma of a single mother working as a state accountant, who, amid the rising cost of living, finds herself reaching out to numerous agencies for support, only to discover she earns too much to qualify for aid but not enough to ensure her family’s basic needs for housing and food are met. Similarly, a family lives with relatives, striving for stability but hindered by their child’s lack of medical care due to being uninsured. A grandmother unexpectedly takes on the role of guardian for her grandchildren after a tragic overdose. She faces the daunting task of navigating an unfamiliar system in search of child care, insurance, and crucial mental health services for her grandchildren, unsure of where to turn for help. It is clear from these stories that there is a critical problem with our current support systems. Despite numerous resources, they consistently fail to reach those who need them the most. The root of the issue lies in the ineffective communication between various agencies, resulting in a fragmented and inefficient support network. This, in turn, places many families in a dif ficult financial position, struggling to afford basic necessities and disqualified from receiving aid. Ultimately, this paradox highlights a more widespread systemic issue: communities with resources are still experiencing negative outcomes due to disjointed systems that struggle to provide the necessary support.


Spring 2024 Policy & Practice

IBM andTogetherNow: A Unified Vision Rochester, NY, exemplifies these challenges, with significant poverty rates that sparked the Rochester/ Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI). While collaborating with IBM in its Smarter Cities Challenge, 1 RMAPI identified a fragmented service delivery system in Rochester as a critical barrier. This insight led to the Monroe County Systems Integration Project (SIP) and eventually evolved into TogetherNow®, a collaborative of more than 150 partners working to implement a common vision of system transformation and aiming to create a cohesive service ecosystem through the MyWayfinder® platform. The MyWayfinder initiative represents a shared mission between IBM and TogetherNow—to enable easy access to services across education, health, and human services, driven by a commit ment to agile, human-centered design. Empowering Communities Through Collaboration In the heart of every thriving com munity lies a network of support that champions the well-being of its children and families. This support

Our partnership is not just about building a system; it is about weaving a fabric of support that holds our community together, ensuring every family and individual can thrive in a caring, responsive environment. The TogetherNow and IBM partnership is a win-win for communities of care seeking to empower families and work upstream—before families find them selves in a crisis situation. Innovative Data Sharing for Enhanced Connectivity Central to our collaborative efforts is the innovative sharing of data. With MyWayfinder, individuals and families maintain control over their personal information. MyWayfinder enables individuals to manage a secure and personalized connection with service providers. They decide who can access their MyWayfinder dashboard. Service providers can maintain connections with individuals and families who have added them to their care team within the tool. When services are deliv ered, all of the individual’s care team members can see that the individual received the help they were seeking and can even see how the individual grated with the local 211/LIFE LINE Community Resource Directory, indi viduals and families can more easily find and connect with a vast network of service providers. MyWayfinder has even been used to integrate the 211 Resource Directory with one local health system’s Electronic Health Record (EHR) platform. Sharing data across sectors by leveraging existing community assets like 211/LIFE LINE has been integral to TogetherNow’s col laborative data sharing efforts. rated their service experience. Because MyWayfinder is inte

preventing them from happening in the first place by addressing challenges early, fostering resilience, and building a foundation of support that empowers families to create and nurture a safe, loving environment for their children. TogetherNow and IBM, through our partnership, are a testament to the power of collaboration in creating communities of care. We empower families, offering them the tools and support they need long before a crisis emerges. Understanding the maze of agencies and available resources can be daunting for families seeking help. That is where TogetherNow comes in, offering insights into how referral services can be optimized to provide families with necessary resources while navigating the complex regula tions around data sharing. MyWayfinder shared information platform, a website where people seeking services could find and col laborate with providers from any sector in one secure place, and where those providers could coordinate with each other in delivering care. IBM reflects the organization’s principles and approach by collaborating with diverse community stakeholders in the human-centered design and devel opment of MyWayfinder. IBM brings its expertise in human services and its technical prowess in developing the MyWayfinder platform—a game changer in connecting care. With agile processes, TogetherNow and IBM can rapidly implement ongoing commu nity feedback to build a solution that continually incorporates the commu nity’s needs and desires. MyWayfinder’s dashboard gives service providers a complete view of an individual’s needs, simplifying support and enabling providers to remove repetitive services and address essential gaps. Users can search for local resources, get care sugges tions, request services, rate their experience, and choose and securely message providers. Additionally, 211/ LIFE LINE Community Connectors use MyWayfinder to direct individuals to appropriate resources, providing broad and easy access to services when they are needed. In 2021, IBM signed on with TogetherNow to help build the

network is about more than just responding to crises; it is about

Nikisha S. Johnson is Assistant Director at TogetherNow.

Building Brighter Futures: Greece Central School District Community Schools

Leah Pewitt is Associate Partner, Child Welfare and Social Services Industry Lead, at IBM Consulting.

In the heart of New York’s Monroe County, the Greece Central School District (GCSD) and MyWayfinder are making a real difference. Greece is a busy suburb currently facing some hidden challenges. Many of its residents are struggling with suburban poverty,


Policy & Practice Spring 2024

force for community well-being and are already making a significant differ ence within the Greece community. Collaborating Together: GCSD and TogetherNow’s Connected Provider Network In 2022, GCSD’s decision to join the TogetherNow Connected Provider Network was a significant leap forward. GCSD has established a Neighborhood Navigation Center (NNC) in a high-need zip code within Greece where school families can work with a systems navigator to connect with services for a variety of needs

Connected Provider Network exempli fies the power of collective effort. It aims to transform schools into vibrant centers of community life where students and families engage to access support, gain empowerment to tackle life’s chal lenges, and build confidence and skills for success beyond the classroom. It has increased and improved connections between and among social workers, counselors, teachers, and more. That engagement then supports students in learning and thriving both in and out of school, leading to healthy, engaged, and empowered students and families. This is the essence of GCSD’s Community Schools strategy—a

an issue often overlooked by services designed to assist those in need. In 2016, the GCSD recognized this problem and took a bold step by adopting the Community Schools strategy. Community Schools are not just about education—they take a “big picture” approach to education by creating a hub for support, resources, and growth. Using schools as hubs, Community Schools bring educa tors, family, and community partners together to offer a range of opportuni ties and supports to their children, their families, and the broader com munity. This person-centered approach to service delivery promotes family

engagement and empower ment through partnerships with community-based orga nizations (CBOs), businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and governmental agencies. The Community Schools strategy provides integrated support systems to students, families, and the community. School staff and community partners systematically coordi nate health and social services, academic and nonacademic supports, and enrichment opportunities in a manner that

commitment to nurturing educated, well-rounded, resilient students ready to con tribute to their communities and the world. Conclusion: The Path Forward Technology innovations are catalyzing our ability to deploy “technology for good” that achieves advancements along with social responsibility. The “technology for good” movement focuses on lever aging technology to impact

Our partnership is not just about building a system; it is about weaving a fabric of support that holds our community together, ensuring every family and individual can thrive in a caring, responsive environment.

fosters student well-being. By bringing these services together under one roof and partnering with families, local businesses, and CBOs, the Community Schools strategy is helping to break down barriers and make it easier for families to access the resources they need, from providing food, clothing, and counseling to offering comprehensive in- and out-of-school activities and powerful family engagement opportunities. GCSD’s strategy focuses on lever aging the community’s assets while identifying the needs of students and families to provide real-time support before crises occur. Helping a family stay housed, helping a parent maintain employment, providing mental health services to a child, or providing supple mental food to a family while they await government assistance are just a few ways the Community Schools strategy helps GCSD provide stability for students. GCSD and other districts across the United States are trans forming education into a powerful

our aggregate well-being and move the needle on healthier populations and safer cities while staying mindful of data stewardship, privacy, and bias. Reflecting on the individual stories at the beginning of this article, the role of Neighborhood Navigation Centers and platforms like MyWayfinder become even more critical. They serve as pivotal support points, guiding families through the complexities of available services. Looking ahead, the adaptability of these models across different sectors highlights the broad potential of our efforts. By continuously expanding and refining our strategies, TogetherNow and IBM aim to reinforce the importance of collaboration, innovation, and com passion in our collective journey toward community wellness and to build a future where every community member has the necessary support to thrive.

ranging from housing, food, transpor tation, and other social health-related concerns. The NNC has connected with approximately 170 families since its establishment. The goal is not just to meet immediate needs but to empower families to navigate obstacles more effectively, ensuring a more robust and secure future for their children. GCSD’s collaboration helped expand the Community Schools’ services while also making them more accessible to families. Through the NNC and by using MyWayfinder, the NNC systems navigator manages referrals to internal GCSD services such as the food pantry, clothing closet, and counseling center in the same manner as referrals to external partners such as local CBOs that offer needed services that the GCSD doesn’t directly provide. The NNC plays a crucial role in providing access to a wide range of services that address families’ most pressing needs. GCSD’s Community Schools initia tive combined with TogetherNow’s

Reference Note 1. https://www.cityofrochester.gov/ IBMSmarterCities.aspx


Spring 2024 Policy & Practice

Illustration by Chris Campbell

our firetruck? Where is S Elevating the Value of Human Services and Strengthening Workforce Development

substance abuse. These responders comprise a community’s human services workforce, ensuring the health and well-being of individuals, children, and families in our communities across the country. “Human services workers are as essen tial to a strong community as emergency responders, but their contribution is under recognized,” says Dr. Bill Hazel, senior deputy executive director of the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation and former Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources. Demand for human services workers con tinues to grow. Yet, this vital workforce that responds to others’ crises is itself in crisis. The average national caregiver turnover rate is 65 percent, and the staffing shortages of govern ment human services workers are reaching emergency levels in many communities. 1

moke rises from a burning building—the blare of sirens approaches. Firetrucks arrive on the scene. Firefighters jump out to combat the flames to save precious lives. The community applauds them, and rightly so.

They respond bravely to crises every day. Their work is visible, and their contribution is obvious to all. Every day, first responders of another kind work on the front lines to provide essential support to communities across the country. They, too, are brave, but their contribu tion is far less visible. They include school counselors supporting youth, parole officers rehabilitating inmates for a return to society, social workers ensuring homes for children without families, home-care workers keeping our aging loved ones independent in their homes, and psychologists treating people who have mental illness or are suffering from

Why has this essential workforce reached such a critical juncture?

By Tiffany Fishman, Amanda Harris, Jen Tutak, Will Arnold, and Michael Walsh


Spring 2024 Policy & Practice

better. State and federal guidelines set the reimbursement and shared funding models that contribute to the disparity in regional services availability. n Consider creative regional funding models that include philanthropic and other community employers and organizations to increase funding. Examine ways to blend and braid funding when emer gency medical technicians or police officers lean in for social services work, particularly in rural areas where resources are limited. n Reassess a more appropriate com pensation structure to address pay inequities and determine levels for workers according to market value with cost-of-living adjustments, especially in less-resourced juris dictions where the current funding formula with low match rates causes a struggle to provide adequate pay and resources. n Invest in resources needed to carry out care responsibilities, including sufficient mobile technology for workers with client-facing responsibility in home and com munity settings, modern technology systems in institutions, and data analysis capabilities by providers and government agencies. workers by reaching out to diverse candidates and by educating the public about the importance of human services work. A public education campaign similar to the Army Strong campaign can help to promote understanding and respect for the sector. 4 n Increase outreach by human services agencies to elementary and middle school students to help inspire candidates earlier when they are starting to form ideas about future careers. Include guidance about certification programs students can attain after secondary school, community college, or other education levels (see Figure 1). Retain n Provide adequate compensa tion, prioritize job quality and Recruit n Increase the pool of available

Although many enter with a strong sense of mission, it becomes difficult for them to withstand the obstacles that come their way. Salaries tend not to keep up with the rising cost of living. The pressure of working with populations under stress has grown in recent years, along with an uptick in violence against human services workers. 2 As their colleagues leave, remaining workers are often tasked with taking on even heavier loads. Meanwhile, competing job opportuni ties at private organizations or in other sectors tend to offer higher pay, better work conditions, or both. The Claude Moore Charitable Foundation studied the challenges affecting the human services work force and identified solutions to elevate their improvement and development in the Commonwealth of Virginia. 3 Their findings provide a road map for other communities nationwide to build a stronger, more sustainable human services workforce to meet growing needs. The Path to Addressing the Crisis: Four Key Areas for Action Given the challenges facing the sector, combating the crisis in the human services workforce requires action on four fronts: resources, recruitment, retention, and regulation. Working in concert, they bolster the human services workforce, which can improve the quality of and access to care for the community. For example, today, inadequate resources and regulatory requirements hamper the recruitment and retention of talent. Conversely, adequate resource alloca tions across sectors, regions, and jobs, working hand in hand with improve ments in regulatory practices, can spur a reversal in this dynamic. To start a virtuous cycle, communi ties can take the following steps to strengthen resources, recruitment, retention, and regulation in the human services sector. Resources n Invest in comprehensive studies to assess where funding can be blended, braided, or adjusted to serve communities and providers

Tiffany Fishman is a senior manager with the Deloitte Center for Government Insights.

Amanda Harris is a principal with Deloitte’s Government and Public Services practice.

Jen Tutak is a senior manager with Deloitte’s Strategy and Analytics practice.

Will Arnold is a managing direc tor with Deloitte’s Government and Public Services practice.

Michael Walsh is a senior man ager in Deloitte’s Government and Public Services prac tice.


Policy & Practice Spring 2024

Figure 1: Health science highway

and providers that manage federal regulatory standards and reporting, in addition to state requirements, to help make decisions with state boards, regulators, and legislators regarding licensing standards for the health services profession.

experience, and establish clear career pathways. Offer professional licensing programs and creative regional funding models to help improve pay and benefits for human services professionals. n Create onboarding and leadership development programs to improve the job experience. Allow for inno vative pathways and early career

mapping to elevate career progres sion in clearly established routes.

Regulation n Reduce regulatory burdens by having state leadership, regula tory bodies, and service delivery agencies identify the regulations that hinder entry into this profes sion. Engage state and local agencies

See Firetruck on page 26


Spring 2024 Policy & Practice

Mountain Moving a … One Rock at a Time

A Scioto County Success Story

cioto County, pronounced “sigh oh-tah,” is the largest county, geographically, in the state of Ohio. It sits at the southern tip of the state on the Ohio River and just across a bridge from Kentucky. It’s a beautiful place, heavily forested and awash with state parks and rec reational areas. It was home to an NFL team in the 1930s that would go on to become the Detroit Lions. It’s the birthplace of Branch Rickey, the executive credited with breaking the color line in major league baseball and signing Jackie Robinson. The county seat, Portsmouth, is well-known for its annual “River Days” celebration every Labor Day weekend and has a magnificent river walk that celebrates the history of the town. If you visit, be sure to have breakfast at Patty’s Inn on Clay St. It’s among the best places to catch up about the goings-on around town. By Molly Tierney S

Scioto is also split down the middle by a notorious drug corridor. Over the years, addiction has taken its evil grip on the com munity in every way you can imagine. In reaction, the county became home to a large number of treatment centers. That meant more people who are struggling with addic tion moved there to live—some of whom succeeded, and others who relapsed. It wasn’t long before the consequences of addiction at this scale made their way into child welfare. In 2019, child welfare was a stand-alone agency with a caseload on a precipitous rise. It was not resourced for the down stream effect of addiction: a spike in the child welfare caseload. The budget plan did not contemplate the expanded demand for services, so there was not enough funding and not enough staff. Meanwhile, case managers lacked adequate training for their roles.

interesting news: caseworkers were making the good and hard choice to prioritize visits with the youngest children on their caseloads—and that the children in open cases who were still at home with their families were the hardest to locate. Additionally, the phenomenon of missed visits and overdue investigations was not spread evenly across the board. The great majority of these errors were committed by a very small set of employees. The need for training was urgent, and the agency lacked the infrastructure to provide it. And they thought hard about the need for external commu nications to drive partnerships. They knew they needed to convey to Scioto’s citizens that there was a great deal of good, hard work being done in the agency and that the safety of children was the entire commu nity’s job. About this time, Tammy leaned in. She’ll tell you she didn’t know much about child welfare, but she spied an agency in shambles from a mile away. She knew she was stepping into a pressure cooker and had to get the tem perature down a couple of degrees just so people could focus. From their collective point of view, Jeff and Tammy saw an agency com prised of people who were rushing around trying to put out fires while standing on an unstable foundation. With all they had learned, they set about the business of building a strong one. They started by merging the stand alone child welfare agency into Tammy’s department. This brought substantial infrastructure, including strong back-office functions like human resources and finance. They paid diligent attention to collective bargaining and merged two unions along the way. Jeff and his state team observed the gaps in caseworker training, which is a core set of modules provided by his office. It included an arduous sign-up process and an administrative schedule that had created a choke point for access to sorely needed training. With the stroke of a pen, he altered the process to be far more friendly to the

Mike DeWine is Ohio’s 70th governor. Commonly referred to as a “children’s governor,” he laid the foundation for progress in child welfare when he took office in 2019. He appointed a cabinet-level position to oversee and coordinate all child serving programs in the state. He doubled funding for children’s services in his first budget and added even more in his second.

A quick look at priority performance measures revealed frightening math: with the number of case managers on staff and the number of open cases, there simply were not enough hours in a month for every child to be visited and for every investigation to be closed on time. This meant impossible choices: which children would get visited and which would not? Which investigations would get attention, and which would get delayed? This perfect storm turned atten tion to a single, horrid data point: an increase in deaths among babies known to the agency. Would-be partners became adversaries. The local press went hog-wild. The county council became impatient and frus trated. Leadership in the state grew increasingly alarmed. The environment became reactionary and draconian. This set of circumstances is just shy of impossible in child welfare. Given the chance, 99 out of 100 administrators would walk away. But Jeffery Van Deusen and Tamela Moore didn’t. Jeffery, who goes by Jeff, recently became the chief of staff in the Ohio Department of Children and Youth (DCY). Prior to this role, Jeff was the state child welfare director overseeing Ohio’s 88 county system. He’s the kind of guy who makes you feel, right away, like you belong. Tamela, who goes by Tammy, is the director of the Scioto County Department of Job and Family Services (JFS). She has a smile that lights up a room. This is the story of these two leaders and the partnership they forged to bring child welfare back from the brink in Scioto County.

Tammy with her husband John and their dog Duke

And when Governor DeWine understood that some counties were struggling under the weight of their child welfare programs, he envisioned a way the state could help. He gathered the very best practitioners at the state agency and formed a Rapid Response Team, which was dispatched to Scioto County to provide intensive resources and support. In 2020, when Jeff became the child welfare director, he continued implementing the governor’s vision with the Rapid Response team and decided to continue the efforts underway in Scioto County. Working with the Scioto staff, Jeff and his team devoted themselves to learning. They listened closely, studied data, and con sidered ways to bring the community together on behalf of their children. Conversations with Scioto staff and their critical partners in the com munity focused on a single question: what would it take for children to be safer in Scioto? They found a big appetite for partnership, a desperate need for role clarity, and significant gaps in the administrative infrastruc ture of the agency. A closer look at data on visits and timely investigations revealed

Molly Tierney is a Managing Director at Accenture in Health and Public Service.

Policy & Practice Spring 2024 20

families have lived there for genera tions. Jeff grew up in Portsmouth and, now living in Columbus, still goes home and walks the streets where many know his name. Tammy lives with her family in the home where she grew up and remains a beloved leader in her community. This ingredient means they do not think about child welfare as a set of programs designed for an un-named mass of people. They think of it as something for neighbors they know and love in a community they call “home.” This turned out to be an important accelerant for their success. It poses some interesting observations about the intersection of the selection of leadership in child welfare and the pace at which they can render change that sticks. This year, Tammy was named “Director of the Year” by the Ohio Job and Family Services Directors Association, a trade association comprised of her peers across the 88 counties in Ohio. In her acceptance speech, she said, “We’re not done yet. But we are going to move this mountain one rock at a time.”

Putting the agency on a strong foundation began to have positive downstream effects. Adversaries reverted to partnership. The local press got opportunities to share good news

needs of the county, ensuring that the state provided training on the schedule Scioto needed it. Tammy was able to hire more case managers and give them, quickly, the

about the agency’s accomplishments. The county council and state leadership returned to confidence in the agency. The environment became calm and methodical. And by 2023, they had achieved a mea surable reduction in the data point that started the fire storm: fewer deaths among babies known to the agency. This is an extraordi

training they needed to succeed. Performance improved on visits and timely investigations. Greater efficiencies meant the county could close cases without delay and keep more children safe at home with their own families. Tammy secured adequate funding from the county in an unprecedented vote of support from the county council, ren dering their budget a

Jeff Van Deusen, Chief of Staff, Ohio Department of Children and Youth

nary accomplishment leveraged by a governor who has dedicated his career to children, and led by two extraordi nary people with boots on the ground. Tammy and Jeff led child welfare work in a very special context. They are both in and of Scioto. Their

better match for their actual costs. She also turned her attention to external communications, telling the whole story of the agency’s work— including the large number of children who were being helped—and building credibility across the community.

Spring 2024 Policy & Practice 21

Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online