Coconino County is known for its diverse culture, stunning natural wonders and landscapes and strong, thriving communities. However, many of our residents also struggle to make ends meet and lack basic human needs.
Adjusting for cost-of-living, 27 percent of county residents are living in poverty compared with 18 percent for the rest of Arizona. For these citizens, local government and not-for-profits are there to help people and help them become more self-sufficient. Because people often need assistance in several areas, delivering human services can be challenging for organizations to face.
This is why Coconino County has developed the Collective Impact pilot program. The goal of the program is to make accessing services easier, to improve outcomes and to make services efficient and cost-effective.
The county’s Collective Impact pilot program arose from the observation that struggling citizens seeking help from one county department were often unaware of other services offered in the area. If people were aware, they often found it inefficient to visit different offices and complete multiple applications for services.
Recognizing the opportunity to make accessing services easier, a collaboration of several departments organized a task force under the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) to find a solution. The task force was made up of the Public Health Services District, Community Services, criminal and juvenile justice agencies and several others.
The task force shared expertise, collaborated and created a plan to create an innovative software application (app) that will help streamline services. The app takes multiple applications for several county human services and integrates them into a single, electronic app that could be used on a tablet or mobile device.
After a client submits the application, information will be uploaded to the various departments across the county and a preliminary eligibility determination made. Within moments, the client will be notified of services for which they are eligible. The process is similar to prequalifying for a loan.
The app is now known as the Common Application for Services (CAS). The task force refined and improved the CAS by using an evidence-based survey instrument to help identify client needs, inform case plans and measure outcomes of the program.
We hope citizens will have a better understanding of what services are available, avoid unnecessary trips to different offices, and get back on their feet quicker by getting help for all their needs at one time. This will also save taxpayer dollars as the county will have to dedicate less staff time to assisting the same people across county departments.
The county is looking forward to the Collective Impact task force completing its implementation goals and the project to launch the pilot. Chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors and member of the CJCC Executive Committee, Liz Archuleta, plans to meet with the team in March to refine the project, test the CAS and resolve any remaining issues. Due to her leadership, the county hopes to start helping citizens early this spring.
The project has already generated tremendous excitement in the community. If the pilot is a success, the Collective Impact program can be expanded to create a seamless, more effective regional human services delivery system.
This would benefit our most at-risk citizens and further strengthen the thriving community we have in Coconino County. FBN
By Cynthia Seelhammer
To learn more about this program, please contact Toby V. Olvera, CJCC coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cynthia Seelhammer is the Coconino County manager.