Participant-Driven Delivery of Integrated Social Services: Building a Model and Examining Its Implementation

Working Paper #60
Publisher: Oakland, CA: Mathematica Policy Research
Feb 01, 2018
Nan Maxwell, Margaret Sullivan, Mary Anne Anderson, and T'Pring Westbrook

Key Findings:

  • Breaking down barriers between entities may be a logical step to helping participants in social service programs but it may not be enough to overcome obstacles unless organizations develop a process for working with participants to customize and integrate services.
  • Partners help organizations expand service offerings by offering more specialized services.
  • Participant-driven service integration seems to include a process of assessing needs and setting and tracking goals in each program area, a process that is consistent with goal-setting coaching.
  • Organization-driven service integration tends to include organizations offering a predetermined set of integrated services to almost all participants. 
Reducing barriers to accessing social services in different program areas is an important issue, but it does not necessarily ensure that participants receive all the services they need to move them toward economic self-sufficiency. This study develops and examines a model for participant-driven integrated service delivery with two key components: (1) offering access to a wide variety of services in multiple program areas and (2) developing a process for integrating those services that allows customization of the services to participant needs. The study used survey data from 71 organizations using integrated service delivery to examine how they integrate services across three program areas—employment services, financial coaching, and income enhancements and work supports. Organizations were sent an e-PDF of the survey, and about 56 percent completed it. We analyzed survey data with descriptive statistics, factor analysis, and ordinary least squares regression analysis. Survey data showed that about 70 percent of organizations responding to the survey implemented a participant-driven model of service integration by using (1) partnerships to offer a wide variety of services in multiple program areas and (2) goal setting as a mechanism for integrating and customizing services. Although the research is exploratory, it highlights the potential for integrating social services in ways that meet participant needs by using methods such as goal setting and coaching to help direct participants toward services and pursuit of goals in different program areas.