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How to maintain a successful FSS program: Tip #1

Patti Zatarian-Menard on the FSS programTip #1: Make sure that your understanding of the FSS program goal is consistent with executive management.

Does everyone — FSS coordinator, supervisor, and executive management — have the same understanding of your FSS program's goal?

If you've never designed and run social service programs before, it's very important to start with the program goal and work from there. Not clarifying the goal with management could have consequences for all other aspects of program operation, from implementing regulations and policies to the delivery of services.

At least once a year, ask your supervisor to sit down for a few minutes and review the goal of the program. Your program's goal may already be available as a written statement in your FSS action plan. The NMA Model Family Self-Sufficiency Action Plan defines the program goal as follows:

The PHA's local goal in operating this FSS program is to match housing-assisted families with a broad range of highly collaborative existing community services to assist FSS families in achieving economic self-sufficiency.

Economic self-sufficiency is defined as having the sustainable skills necessary to maintain employment paying a "living wage." This wage would pay for the family's basic needs without the use of government subsidies.

Once you're certain that everyone has the same understanding and that the goal supports other agency goals, you'll need to check that the goal is consistent throughout your action plan, other program documents, outreach materials, and the service delivery design of your program. Your policies and all other facets of your program must align with your FSS program's goal.

Next: How to maintain a successful FSS program: Tip #2

In her capacity with the San Diego Housing Commission, NMA Senior Associate Trainer Patti Zatarain-Menard designed, developed, and implemented one of the nation’s largest and most successful family self-sufficiency programs. For the past two decades, she has worked with Nan McKay and Associates conducting training seminars nationally and undertaking consulting assignments on federally subsidized housing.